Trump’s Penn­syl­va­nia sup­port­ers grap­ple with new ac­cu­sa­tions

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jill Colvin The As­so­ci­ated Press

Kathryn Do­herty would never date the likes of Don­ald Trump and jokes that if her daugh­ter did, she’d send her to a con­vent. But he’ll get the 76-year-old re­tiree’s vote for pres­i­dent.

“Well I’m dis­pleased, ter­ri­bly, and I’m cer­tainly not in love with his per­son­al­ity,” said Do­herty, who lives in Yard­ley, Penn­syl­va­nia. “But I think he would do a good job for the coun­try. And quite hon­estly, Hil­lary’s stolen so much, taken so much, lied so much, cheated so much, I can’t have that.”

Here in Penn­syl­va­nia’s bat­tle­ground coun­ties — and in nearby coal coun­try, the heart of Trum­p­land — po­ten­tial vot­ers in this cru­cial state are grap­pling with new waves of in­crim­i­nat­ing in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault against Trump and new hacked emails from his ri­val, Hil­lary Clin­ton.

As they weigh two al­ready his­tor­i­cally un­pop­u­lar can­di­dates, many see the elec­tion as a grim choice. But in­ter­views with more than two dozen vot­ers in the state also sug­gest that many even luke­warm Trump sup­port­ers are stand­ing by their can­di­date, de­spite as­sump­tions he’s in freefall.

Speak­ing over soup, Do­herty said she doesn’t like Trump’s talk about women, as cap­tured in a 2005 video in which he bragged about im­pos­ing him­self on them.

“Be­lieve me, I would never date any­body like him,” she said. “And if some­one like that showed up at my house to date my daugh­ter,” she cracked, “I’d have to send her to a con­vent.”

But she and her hus­band, Len, both reg­is­tered Repub­li­cans, are will­ing to look past Trump’s flaws be­cause they trust the out­sider busi­ness­man more than Clin­ton and agree with him on is­sues, like the di­rec­tion of the Supreme Court.

“Of course I wish there were a bet­ter choice,” said Do­herty. “But there’s not. You deal with what you get.”

It was a fee­ing echoed by Eleanor Reigel, an in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tor for a cos­met­ics com­pany who is not reg­is­tered with a party. Shop­ping at a Wal­green’s in nearby Le­vit­town, Reigel ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with Trump’s words but says she’ll prob­a­bly vote for him.

“I’m a woman,” she said. “I was in­volved in Ti­tle IX,” the land­mark law pro­hibit­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against women in ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams or ac­tiv­i­ties get­ting fed­eral aid. “But I have to look at a big­ger pic­ture.”

As a busi­ness­woman, Reigel said, she sides with Trump on is­sues like tax pol­icy. “You can’t re­cover char­ac­ter, but oh my gosh, I have to think about where are we go­ing with our coun­try.”

In nearby Wilkes-Barre, where Trump-Pence lawn signs now dec­o­rate res­i­den­tial streets along­side jack-o’lanterns, sup­port for Trump is even stronger. Even out­side his fer­vent rallies, vot­ers re­peat­edly dis­missed the video and as­sault al­le­ga­tions as a co­or­di­nated me­dia as­sault in ca­hoots with the Clin­ton cam­paign.

“He talks like we think,” said Kathy Bax­ter, 76, a life­long Demo­crat who lives in nearby White Haven and changed her party regis­tra­tion so she could vote for Trump in the GOP pri­mary.

Bax­ter, who serves as a care­taker for her hand­i­capped daugh­ter, dis­missed the hub­bub over the video re­marks as “silly” con­sid­er­ing how much is at stake.

“Ev­ery guy says that, as far as I know, you know what I mean?” she asked. “That’s their na­ture. They talk like that.” As for Clin­ton, she said: “The ly­ing and the emails and the ev­ery­thing — that should be brought up more than some­body say­ing some­thing like he said.”

Many here are es­pe­cially eager for change, like Dave John­son, 48, of Ster­ling, Penn­syl­va­nia. John­son used to work as a car sales­man, but switched to the in­sur­ance in­dus­try be­cause busi­ness was so bad. Yet his com­pany dropped his health in­sur­ance be­cause of costs.

“Even in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try, I can’t get in­sur­ance,” he quipped, blam­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s health care over­haul.

John­son, a Demo­crat since high school, changed his party regis­tra­tion about a month ago be­cause of Trump. He also dis­missed the grop­ing al­le­ga­tions, not­ing that Trump has de­nied them, and says he be­lieves that Trump is the best per­son to try to turn a bro­ken, dispir­ited coun­try around.

“It’s a mess,” he said. “I’m en­thu­si­as­tic for a change. I don’t think we need any more elit­ist politi­cian.”

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump speaks at a cam­paign rally in Ban­gor, Maine on Satur­day.

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