Leaders of the Houston County Republican Party believe any “Never Trump” faction will ultimately be “Never Hillary” voters.
Henry Childs, chairman of the Houston County GOP and an ardent Trump supporter, said he believes that party loyalists who didn’t like Trump will end up voting for him. Childs said when he speaks to people with doubts about Trump, he urges them to focus on how he stands on the issues rather than his personality.
“I go back to the basics,” he said. “What are your values? Do you believe in the right to life? Do you believe in the sanctity of marriage? A balanced budget? Then you fit right in with Mr. Trump.
“Forget about the antics you see on television.”
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When the primary season started, Childs supported John Kasich, but with Kasich’s chances looking slim by the time of the Georgia primary, Childs voted for Trump. His wife Vivian, however, has been an ardent Trump supporter from the start. The Childses are black, and Vivian Childs has been traveling the state trying to drum up support for Trump among minorities, where he trails badly.
She said this is the most she has ever been involved in a presidential race.
“Most of his issues were my issues,” she said.
Kelly Burke, a former Houston County district attorney, was a strong supporter of Ted Cruz in the primary. With an acrimonious relationship between Cruz and Trump, winning over Cruz supporters has been one of Trump’s biggest challenges.
Burke said he would not count himself as ever having been among the “Never Trump” faction, but he did not at one time think he would vote for him. He has since changed his mind and voted for him during the early voting period.
Burke said it ultimately came down to the fact that Trump is closer to his views.
“Trump has really hit a nerve and I think appropriately so,” Burke said. “I think he has helped the Republicans understand what the biggest bulk of Americans are worried about.”
Burke said he knows of only one traditional Republican who refuses to vote for Trump and planned to write in a candidate. Some, he said, are “hold-the-nose” voters, but many of them are ardent Trump supporters.
Like the Childses, Burke believes Trump will carry Houston County, a longtime Republican stronghold, by similarly large margins as previous Republican presidential candidates have.
The last time a Democratic presidential candidate won in Houston County was in 1980, when favorite son Jimmy Carter drew 10,915 votes to Ronald Reagan’s 9,005. Since then, GOP candidates have run the tablee, sometimes nearly doubling the tallies of their Democratic opponent, such as in 2004, when George W. Bush took 29,862 votes in Houston County to John Kerry’s 15,054. Both Mitt Romney and John McCain far outpolled Barack Obama in the 2012 and 2008 presidential races.
Many of Trump’s supporters have been drawn to him by his extemporaneous speaking style, which has also gotten him in trouble with off-the-cuff comments that have generated controversy.
But Terri Varga of Warner Robins said she hasn’t been bothered by those things. She has already voted for Trump and has a sign supporting him in her front yard.
“I like his vision,” she said. “I like that he doesn’t do the not-wanting-to-hurt-anyone’s-feelings political correctness thing. He’s saying things that no one else wants to say because they are afraid they are going to hurt someone’s feelings.”
The Houston County GOP headquarters in Warner Robins was getting a steady stream of traffic Monday as people came in to pick up pro-Trump buttons and signs.
Ray Hubbard of Warner Robins bought several Trump buttons. He said the appointment of Supreme Court justices is his top concern. He also believes Republicans are going to rally around Trump.
“I don’t see how anyone who has any morals about them could vote for Hillary because I don’t think she has any,” he said.