‘That doesn’t fly around here’: Trump’s rage falls flat in Pennsylvania


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At the Goshen Country Fair 34 miles south-west of Philadelphia on Friday night, the dairy cattle show was in full swing, the fried Oreos were selling fast, there was live music and bingo. And Donald Trump was getting little sympathy in his defence against a mounting series of criminal allegations.

“As far as I’m concerned, there looks to be a lot of justification for the indictments,” said Curt Wise, an 81-year-old retired Lockheed Martin employee and a registered Republican. “Least of all is it political persecution,” Wise said as he finished a cup of mint chip ice-cream and gazed at the rides.

In a Washington courtroom a day earlier, Trump pleaded not guilty to federal charges that he plotted to overturn the results of the 2020 US election — the latest in a plethora of accusations brought by prosecutors this year including falsification of business records and mishandling of classified documents. 

Trump has responded to all the charges by raging against the justice system, insisting it is being weaponised against him by the Biden administration and the Democratic party. It is a bid to galvanise his base and consolidate his lead in the Republican primary contest.

Curt Wise at the Goshen Country Fair: ‘I will vote my conscience, but right now Trump is not high on that conscience-meter’ © James Politi

But in this corner of the heavily populated, relatively affluent and politically moderate area of Pennsylvania that often decides the fate of American presidential elections, even some Republicans are unconvinced.

“I think he was abusing his power, absolutely,” said Cody Bright, a 28-year-old local official in the town, who was wearing a shirt backing Nikki Haley, one of Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination. “Anyone other than Trump at this point. I don’t think he’s good for the Republican party, to be honest,” Bright added.

Some voters at the fair were still fiercely loyal to the former president.

“The Democrats are terrified of having him run in the election . . . and that he would probably win. So they need to do what they can to get rid of him,” said Kris Vollrath, 57, at a booth set up in support of Republican candidates for local offices.

“I will vote for Donald Trump no matter what they find him guilty of — he’s better than the clown that’s in the office now,” said Tom, who refused to give his name, as he walked back to his car with his wife.

The so-called collar counties surrounding Philadelphia can be pivotal to winning Pennsylvania’s electoral college votes. They have typically backed Democrats but the margin matters hugely. In 2016, Trump limited the damage in these areas as he went on to defeat Hillary Clinton, but the pendulum swung to Joe Biden in 2020. Democrats kept that edge in congressional and statewide races last year.

“If Trump wins [the Republican primary] it will be a drag on the ticket in this area,” said Christian Nascimento, chair of the Republican party in Montgomery County, over breakfast on Saturday at the Collegeville Diner. “Republicans can certainly win in areas like this, around inflation and the economy and crime . . . [but] when we’re talking about indictments and relitigating the past, that doesn’t fly around here.”

Tom, a fan of Donald Trump, who declined to give his last name, at the Goshen Country Fair, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Tom, who declined to give his last name: ‘I will vote for Donald Trump no matter what they find him guilty of’ © James Politi

Trump allies for governor and senator were defeated by Democrats in last year’s midterm elections, but Bright said the damage for Republicans runs much deeper.

“Ever since Donald Trump was president and then ran again in 2020, we haven’t won a race here. We’ve lost probably six or seven state representative seats. We’ve lost two or three state Senate seats. We’ve lost the courthouse, we’ve lost everything. So if we do that, again, it’s just going to continue to get worse,” Bright said. 

“In this region people do understand . . . a second Trump administration would be disastrous for our democracy. The Republican party has backed itself in the corner,” said Mary Gay Scanlon, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from the area.

Republicans argue that Democrats will suffer a backlash for supporting the prosecution of Biden’s likely competitor in next year’s election. But Scanlon said the cases needed to be heard.

April Stewart at the Goshen Country Fair, West Chester, Pennsylvania
April Stewart: ‘I think [Trump is] guilty of a lot of things’ © James Politi

“It’s multiple different jurisdictions bringing these, it’s American citizens sitting on the grand juries and saying there’s enough evidence,” she said.

Other Democrats at the fair thought the charges should have come sooner. “I think he’s guilty of a lot of things. I hope it comes back to him and money doesn’t prevail and actually justice does,” said April Stewart, 46, who works in software sales.

“It was a direct attack on American democracy — an interruption of the peaceful transfer of power,” said Bill Ruggerio, a 49-year-old IT professional in the biotech sector, referring to Trump’s alleged 2020 scheme. “And it came from the political party that claims to be for law and order and they are anything but.”

Cody Bright at the Goshen Country Fair, West Chester, Pennsylvania
Cody Bright: ‘Ever since Donald Trump was president and then ran again in 2020, we haven’t won a race here’

A 40-year-old school teacher who declined to be named said it seemed like Jack Smith, the special counsel prosecuting Trump at a federal level, had his “ducks in a row”. “I think a lot of the independents I speak to, people in the middle, they’re kind of saying ‘the chickens have come home to roost’,” he said.

Wise, the Lockheed Martin retiree, said he had already been drifting away from the Republican party but would not be inclined to vote for Trump. “I will vote my conscience, but right now Trump is not high on that conscience-meter.”

Yet many Democrats are not fully confident that Trump will be convicted or defeated at the ballot box — either by his Republican rivals or by Biden, who almost counts as a local in south-eastern Pennsylvania given the proximity of his home state of Delaware. Biden’s approval ratings remain low and he holds only a narrow lead in a potential head-to-head match-up with Trump, according to Realclearpolitics.com’s national polling average.

“[Trump] should be in jail, but I don’t think that he ever will be. If he can run successfully, I think we have a good chance that he might get elected again, and I think it would be bad,” said Ellen McKinley, 33, a museum worker.

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Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden
Lisa Holden is a news writer for LinkDaddy News. She writes health, sport, tech, and more. Some of her favorite topics include the latest trends in fitness and wellness, the best ways to use technology to improve your life, and the latest developments in medical research.

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