USA TODAY International Edition
Russia doesn’t rate in Trump Country
Health care, not campaign collusion, is what really gets their motors running
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