Thursday, September 10, 2020

Rural commentators on PBS say revelations about Trump and the pandemic won't shake his supporters from him

President Trump's newly reported admission that he downplayed the threat of the novel coronavirus will cost him very little if any support among his followers in rural areas and smaller cities, two rural commentators said on the "PBS NewsHour" Wednesday night.

Heartland author Sarah Smarsh of Kansas and Gary Abernathy, a former newspaper editor in southern Ohio, were interviewed by anchor Judy Woodward.

"I don't know that there's a big contradiction like some people are saying," Abertnathy said. "He wanted to keep the economy open, he wanted to keep things rolling. . . . I think most people here who support him will say, yeah, we all kind of knew it was deadly ... but he was trying to keep people calm, he didn't want a panic across the country, he wanted things to remain as normal as possible."

Smarsh said she agreed that "supporters likely will not bail form the Trump ship over this."

Woodward asked how the virus issue is liked to Trump's economic messages.

"People weren't happy, where I lived, that everything was totally shut down to begin with," Abertahy said, and wanted "a more targeted approach" that would not have been as drastic in rural areas. He said Trump voters believe his policies have worked, "and if we can get things back up and running, they'll work again."

Smarsh said people's feeling about the pandemic "kind of predicts how they feel abut the economy and whether Trump is doing a good job or not."

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