The qualities that many reasonable people find repellant about Donald Trump are exactly what his staunchest supporters like about him.
A dozen Republican and self-described independents from New Hampshire, which will hold the nation’s first presidential primary, discussed the real estate tycoon and reality TV star’s appeal as part of a Bloomberg Politics focus group.
“Donald Trump is strong,” said Nick, a home inspector. “He carries a sentiment and frustrations that I think a lot of Americans are going through and feeling right now. He’s the one that’s able to articulate that, and bring those frustrations to light. I believe him when he talks.”
The voters — five of whom identified themselves as Tea Party members — weren’t troubled by Trump describing Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals as he announced his GOP presidential campaign.
“He speaks the truth,” said Jessica, a data analyst. “When he talks about, especially immigration control and the border, he really — he doesn’t care what people think.”
Another voter said he liked Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border that would be paid for by Mexico.
“Specifically, he said he’ll put a wall on the southern border,” said Roger, who works with the elderly. “When you talk about common sense, that’s a common-sense thing to do.”
The voters were asked to imagine and describe a Trump presidency.
“Classy,” said Cheryl, a real estate agent.
“I think it would be exciting, I really do,” Roger said. “I look forward to it. It’ll be an interesting thing every day.”
“I think he’d be calling out everybody,” said John, a construction worker. “I think it’d be pretty good.”
Another voter looked forward to the White House team built by Trump, who has said he would seek Sarah Palin’s advice as president or possibly name her to an executive-branch post.
“He would surround himself with the best and the brightest,” said Don, a retired school teacher. “To the American people it would be a presidency of hope.”
The voters, who are all from the Manchester area, said they respected Trump’s wealth.
“I was a little girl, and I didn’t even know what Trump Towers were, but I knew that he was a wealthy, successful man and I remember asking my mother if I could write him a letter to ask him how he made his money,” Jessica said.
Despite the candidate’s wealth, the voters felt they could relate to the billionaire celebrity.
“He’s like one of us,” said Janet, a former dog breeder. “He may be a millionaire, which separates him from everybody else, but besides the money issue, he’s still in tune with what everybody is wanting.”
Some of the voters expressed concern that Trump could be a “hothead” with a habit of making “inappropriate comments,” such as insulting the wartime service of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — but that liability appealed to other voters.
“I haven’t heard a lot of positions,” said Andy. “But one thing is when he takes a position, and I’ll use the John McCain thing, he didn’t turn around two days later and say, ‘Oh no, that’s not what I’m supposed to say.’ He stayed with what he believed in, and that’s, to me, what I’m looking for.”
Watch portions of the conversation posted online by Bloomberg: