September 30, 2018
In Wheeling, West Virginia, those who came to see the president praised the supreme court nominee and dismissed his accuser
‘She was paid by the Democrats’: Trump fans on Ford and Kavanaugh
At Donald Trump’s rally on Saturday night, attendees came from many states and many walks of life. But they all agreed on one thing: Brett Kavanaugh should be on the US supreme court.
In more than a dozen interviews, attendees did not hesitate. Kavanaugh’s experience on Thursday, facing questions before the Senate judiciary committee about an allegation of sexual assault, was they said a “travesty” or a “farce”. The question was whether the testimony of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, should even be considered credible.
Trump did not go so far on Thursday, telling reporters Ford was “very compelling” and “a very credible witness”. Even Kavanaugh has not doubted her sincerity, denying the charge but saying in testimony he was “not questioning that Dr Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time”.
At the Trump rally, many did.
Randy Lollini, a 37-year-old business owner from Dillonvale, Ohio, was wearing overalls over a Trump T-shirt and holding a sign referring to the governor of his state, a Trump critic: “Kasich Sucks.”
“To me,” he said, “anybody that wants to be real about things will absolutely just know that that lady is full of it”.
He added: “I always say there are people in [the] mideast that’s been sex slaves for 10 years and they have more emotional stability than what she showed. And for people to really believe that’s how somebody’s going to be 35 years after a supposed happening, that’s why Trump is elected, because enough people finally realize in the country that we’re not going to put up with that virtue-signaling any more because its not getting the country anywhere.”
Tammy DeWitt, a 52-year-old state employee from Shinnston, West Virginia, also thought Ford was lying.
“It’s kind of obvious,” she said. “Thirty-some years later, right when he was getting the nomination, that she all the sudden remembers it.” She suggested “maybe she was paid by the Democrats”, and repeated: “They are crucifying that poor man.”
Others said Ford was sincere but mistaken. William Gehrig, a 77-year-old retiree from Shadyside, Ohio said: “Evidentially she had a terrible experience but it wasn’t him.”
Chris Leslie, a 47-year-old telecommunications technician from Portsmouth, Ohio, said: ” I think she’s confused. I think someone else there might have perpetrated that crime. He’s got a roommate that looks a lot like him.”
‘She was paid by the Democrats’: Trump fans on Ford and Kavanaugh
Lynn Gooch, a 57-year-old speech pathologist from Wheeling, West Virginia, was wearing a Qanon shirt, a reference to an online conspiracy theory popular with Trump supporters. She suggested Ford might be “under some kind of MK Ultra thing”.
MK-Ultra was a CIA project in the 1950s and 1960s that, for interrogation purposes, tested drugs such as LSD.
‘It’s just a con job’
Kavanaugh is now the subject of a week-long FBI investigation, on which Arizona Republican Jeff Flake insisted as a condition of his support. At the rally, opinion was divided.
Kylie Queen, a 30-year-old from Greene County, Pennsylvania, was wearing a T-shirt with an image of George Washington wearing a Make America Great Again hat. She said: “I think it sucks for [Kavanaugh] and his family but think they are doing it for Flake and [Maine senator Susan] Collins and [Alaska senator Lisa] Murkowski and doing what they had to do.”
Asked her opinion of those senators, Queen said: “I think they’re pathetic, I just think they are pathetic.”
This was echoed by Frank DeFede, a retired veteran from Ohio, who echoed Trump when he said: “It’s just a con job.”
In dismay, DeFede referred to Flake’s widely reported conversation on Friday with Chris Coons of Delaware, a friend: “He goes into a back room and meets with a Democrat before he comes out and tells us.
“How dirty is that? It’s all a joke, man. A big joke.”
Some took a more charitable view. Chad Baldwin, a 26-year-old from Pasadena, Maryland, who was attending the rally as a surprise birthday present with his father, said: “I don’t know if they are doing it for the right reasons but I’m not going to say as long they push it through.”
Tyler Strough, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, had watched some of the hearing on television. He supported a delay.
“I could tell from that day things were a little hectic and I think that’s a wise decision,” he said.
For Trump, Kavanaugh was a major applause line. Attendees cheered when he denounced Democrats for opposing his nomination and insisted it was a cynical political tactic.
“They don’t care who they hurt,” he said, “who they have to run over in order to get power and control and that’s what they want power and control”.
Trump let the Republican Senate nominee Patrick Morrisey speak. Perhaps his best applause line was: “Ladies and gentlemen, we must confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”
It may not have worked for everyone. Derek McEndree, a 36-year-old from St Clairsville, Ohio, with a prominent facial piercing, told the Guardian: “I haven’t gotten into that yet. I heard something about Kavanaugh and there might be some sort of sex assault charge but haven’t done enough research.”
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