Saturday, January 13, 2018

At a rural GOP listening post, Trump's fitness is questioned, but Minn. poll shows majority support in largely rural areas

Grassley listens (Register photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes)
In a reliably Republican county in southwest Iowa, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley "faced relentless questioning about President Donald Trump’s fitness for office and his own handling of the investigation into Russian election meddling," Jason Noble reports for the Des Moines Register.

Asked in the Harrison County seat of Logan, population 1,500, if he was concerned about Trump's behavior, Grassley said "he wasn’t qualified to make a psychiatric assessment," Noble reports. “I’m not president of the United States,” Grassley said. “I’m a check on the president of the United States. That’s my constitutional responsibility. I’m going to do what I can under our constitution to make sure that nothing bad happens to our country.”

The town meeting was Grassley’s first on his annual tour of all 99 Iowa counties, "was a striking scene, not least because of where it was playing out: in a rural western Iowa county where Republicans outnumber Democrats nearly 2-1 and where Trump carried 65 percent of the vote in 2016," Noble notes. "And in contrast to the crowds that packed into lawmakers’ town meetings last year, the anti-Trump contingent was not obviously organized. . . . They appeared, by and large, to be from Logan and the small communities immediately surrounding."

While the questions were mainly anti-Trump, the crowd was more evenly divided. When one woman stood and said “I just love our wonderful President Trump,” she drew "a chorus of mocking laughter mixed with sincere applause," Noble reports. The woman told onlookers, Nejedly said, “I don’t know you, but don’t hate so much. We’ve got to come together and stop hating so much.” Another woman replied, “We’re not hating. It’s not that we hate Trump.We are recognizing behavior that’s not normal. We’re not psychiatrists, but we can see abnormal behavior when we see it.”

Noble reports, "Grassley largely remained above the fray, answering specific questions as they were asked of him but declining to engage in the more open-ended critiques of his conduct or the president’s behavior." The senator said comments attributed to Trump, questioning immigration from "shithole countries," “detracts from the very important issue we’ve got to get solved by March 5,” the deadline for Congress to preserve protections for immigrants brought to the country as minors.

UPDATE, Jan. 15: In adjoining Minnesota, which Trump narrowly lost in 2016, he still had a 60 percent approval rating in the southern part of the state, and 59 percent in the north, "a region hit hard by the steel slump and layoffs in the iron mines, [where] 70 percent approved of the way Trump is handling the economy and job policy," Jennifer Brooks reports for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which sponsored the poll, taken Jan. 8-10, before the latest controversy.

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