During last year’s presidential campaign, they were among the North Carolina voters who told the Observer why they wanted to send Republican Donald Trump to the White House.
What do they want him to say Tuesday night when he speaks, as President Trump, for the first time to a joint session of Congress?
Two backers want him to offer words that could begin to unify the country.
One supporter wants him to treat immigrants who abide the law with respect. Another wants to hear Trump’s plans to keep Hispanics from taking U.S. jobs.
Here’s what they told the Observer about their expectations for Tuesday night’s prime-time televised speech:
▪ Former Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson, who’s a Republican, said she wants to hear Trump put forth a plan to reunite what she calls “a very divided country.”
“I’d like for him to take a more conciliatory tone, and say he’s willing to work with both sides,” she said. “He’s everybody’s president.”
He can start, Anderson said, by “calming the fears” of immigrants who are not among the ones “doing bad things,” including driving drunk or engaging in gang activity.
As a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who was stationed in Arizona, she supports Trump’s efforts to step up border enforcement.
But, she said, “there has to be a balance” that respects immigrants abiding by the law in their daily lives and trying to raise their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens.
“To watch a family being torn apart is heart-wrenching – and needless in my opinion,” she said.
Anderson, who served as mayor of the Union County town from 2003 to 2011, would also like to hear Trump tell Congress – and the American people – that he’ll seriously listen to the counsel of those in his Cabinet who are more experienced than he is.
That especially goes, she said, for his national security advisers.
“He says he’ll support the military, and I believe him,” she said. “But he doesn’t know that much about the military, So he’s going to have to rely on the soldier-scholars (he’s appointed) ... I want to hear him say, ‘I’ve got the best people and I’ll listen to them.”
▪ Aut Steele, a retired carpenter and former mill worker in Kannapolis, said he favors Trump’s hard-line stand on deporting immigrants here illegally – especially those from south of the border who Steele says are taking jobs away from Americans.
And he’d like to hear more from Trump about how he’s going to “get Hispanics out who are coming over and taking our jobs.”
Instead of putting up a wall on the Mexican border, Steele said, Trump should get tougher on U.S. businesses hiring workers here illegally, cut off all government benefits to undocumented immigrants and then put up a sign at the border saying ‘No more jobs. No more money.’ Instead of coming here, let them stay in Mexico and build up Mexico.”
Steele, who will turn 86 in April, also wants Trump to renew his promise Tuesday to bolster – not dismantle – Social Security and Medicare so that seniors like him can get more generous cost-of-living raises without their insurance going up.
One other thing he’d like Trump to address: Spell out how he plans to protect the home front from ISIS.
▪ Shelley Goldberg of Charlotte hopes to hear Trump tell Congress what he’s done and will do to support coal and the military. His promises to back both was the reason Goldberg voted for him – her son works in the coal industry in West Virginia and her daughter is at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Apart from forging ahead with what he promised during the campaign, she said, Trump should also rise to the presidential challenge of trying to bring Americans of all races and backgrounds together.
“I want him to come up with a message that unifies our country,” she said. “I feel the country is so divided racially. He needs to be listening to others, and I think he’s trying to do that, trying to reach middle ground.”
Goldberg said she’s not against having new immigrants settle in the United States – “that’s where we (descendents of immigrants) came from” – but she agrees with Trump that the law is the law and it and the border needs to be enforced.
“I just want people (emigrating here) to do it the right way or change the law,” she said.
Finally, Goldberg hopes Trump’s first address to Congress will signal he’s ready to rely less on executive orders and more on working with Congress to get things done.
“I don’t want him pushing things through like (former President Barack) Obama did,” she said. “I want to see him work with Congress. And I also want to see them work with him.”
▪ Kerry Frank, a stay-at-home mom in Waxhaw, said she’d like to hear Trump speak to Congress with the authority and know-how of a proven business professional.
And she wants him to tell them he will act on the issues in government that a successful business executive is equipped to fix.
Frank named two: Reducing the national debt and “bringing jobs back to America.”
“I think he’s doing well,” she said. “But the media has not publicized (his successes). ... Instead, they make up a bunch of BS.”
▪ Andrew Welch, co-owner of the Faith Soda Shop in Rowan County, said he hopes Trump will tell Congress it’s time to cut taxes – especially for small business owners like him.
“I pay a ton of taxes every month,” Welch said. “So I hope he can help small businesses survive with some tax breaks.”
Welch said he’s convinced that Trump’s opponents will try to “knock him down” at every opportunity over the next four years. And the restaurant owner is not sure the news media is giving the new president a fair shake.
But there’s one thing he hopes Trump will stop doing – starting Tuesday night: focusing on himself and crowing about what he insists was his huge Electoral College victory.
“I wish he wasn’t so me-me-me,” said Welch. “He needs to tone that down a little bit.”
Tim Funk: 704-358-5703, @timfunk
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