Rus­sia doesn’t rate in Trump Coun­try

Health care, not cam­paign col­lu­sion, is what re­ally gets their mo­tors run­ning

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Dave Boucher USA TODAY Net­work

There’s a lit­tle piece of Rus­sia in the heart of Trump Coun­try, USA.

Urals, Rus­sian- made mo­tor­cy­cles, sit out­side Mike’s Cy­cle and Ma­rine in Waynesboro, about 100 miles south­west of Nashville.

In­side, the shop’s name­sake, Mike Mitchell, uses a wrench to crank a lug nut off a mo­tor­cy­cle. His wife, Deb­bie; smokes a cig­a­rette in the of­fice.

Af­ter 37 years of work­ing in Wayne County, Mike Mitchell loves bikes. He has met Rus­sians and liked them, too.

Mitchell isn’t los­ing sleep over the scru­tiny of Pres­i­dent Trump’s ties to Rus­sia and rev­e­la­tions sur­round­ing his son’s meet­ing to get dam­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion about Demo­cratic ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“I’m sure the other side was looking for dirt. I just can’t be­lieve they weren’t. I’m sure the Amer­i­cans are over there pid­dling and messing around in their busi­ness,” he said. “If they’re over here messing in our sys­tem, we’ve just got to fig­ure out how to keep it from af­fect­ing us.”

In Novem­ber, Wayne County over­whelm­ingly voted for Trump.

The re­gion, filled with rolling hills and woods near the Alabama bor­der, is still proud of Trump, said Wayne County Re- pub­li­can Party Chair­woman Stephanie Pear­son.

“I prob­a­bly am a big­ger sup­porter of him. I have a greater respect and ad­mi­ra­tion for him and his of­fice,” Pear­son said.

Pear­son, who works down the road from Waynesboro as

city clerk of Collinwood, said Trump should tone down the per­sonal at­tacks on Twit­ter.

But she said she’s more ashamed of the way Democrats, the me­dia and op­po­nents have at­tacked her pres­i­dent, and she is dis­ap­pointed in con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans for not do­ing more to help him.

She ap­plauded Don­ald Trump Jr. for re­leas­ing his emails about a meet­ing with a Rus­sian at­tor­ney in the midst of the cam­paign against Clin­ton.

There’s very lit­tle that would change her mind about Trump.

“I don’t know what he would have to do. … I guess maybe kill some­one. Just in cold blood,” Pear­son said.

Steven Jack­son, who runs a bar­ber­shop in Waynesboro where he also sells “good junk,” said his fa­ther would kill him if he knew he voted for Trump. Jack­son, 51, said his fa­ther was a life­long Demo­crat, and he’s one too.

Jack­son voted for Trump, the first Repub­li­can he has ever voted for, not be­cause he dis­liked Pres­i­dent Obama but be­cause he be­lieves the Demo­cratic Party did not do enough to im­prove the econ­omy.

“I saw ( Trump) as a per­son I could re­late to,” Jack­son said. “In busi­ness, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Repub­li­can or Demo­crat. You’ve got to make it.”

Peo­ple around town do talk about the pres­i­dent and Rus­sia, but Jack­son said an­other na­tional topic is the one di­vid­ing the coun­try: He wants Trump to fol­low through on cam­paign prom­ises to im­prove the health care sys­tem.

Mike Mitchell said he voted for Trump be­cause Obama’s changes to health care didn’t help him.

Looking down at a note­book filled with num­bers, Mike’s wife, Deb­bie, said it’s not Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence she’s wor­ried about. It’s tough to care about pos­si­ble col­lu­sion with Rus­sia when your hus­band needs new knees.

“We’ve lost ev­ery­thing, pretty much,” Deb­bie Mitchell said. “We can’t af­ford health care, pe­riod. We didn’t qual­ify for Oba­macare, we didn’t qual­ify for ( Med­i­caid), and we can’t af­ford to buy health in­sur­ance. We’re the ones that fall through the cracks.”

Asked if the sit­u­a­tion made her ner­vous, she laughed.

“Ner­vous? We’ve been do­ing it for years. We passed ner­vous a while back.”

“I don’t know what he would have to do. … I guess maybe kill some­one. Just in cold blood.” Stephanie Pear­son, Wayne County Repub­li­can Party chair­woman

LACY ATKINS, THE ( NASHVILLE) TENNESSEAN

“I’m sure the other side was looking for dirt,” Mike Mitchell, owner of Mike’s Cy­cle & Ma­rine, says of the Trump cam­paign scru­tiny.

LACY ATKINS, THE ( NASHVILLE) TENNESSEAN

Wayne County Repub­li­can Party Chair­woman Stephanie Pear­son shows off a poster Trump gave her dur­ing a visit to Nashville.

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