You'd Be Amazed What Happened When Our Reporter Talked to Trump's Women
Denise Creighton knows Donald Trump personally. When she worked as a dental hygienist in New York City, Donald Trump's father and mother came into the office to get their teeth cleaned and she occasionally saw their son. I didn't think to ask Creighton if she had ever flossed the teeth of the most powerful man in the world. But I didn't need to know what she thought of Trump's incisors to know she admired the man.
Creighton described Trump as a friend of the family, "a regular guy." She can recall the trauma when Trump's brother died, devastating the family and prompting the parents to send acting-out Donald off to military school. She admired Trump's mother ("silent but strong") and father ("Really tough, but humble too").
Creighton—who comes from a military family which boasts of having a strict sense of right and wrong—likes the simplicity of Trump's outspoken character.
"Is he annoying?" she asked. "Of course. Is he irritating? He's so irritating. But that's his strength. That's what's going to protect us as a nation."
I met Creighton in the shadow of the Washington Monument shortly before her friend and hero was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president. She came with four friends from a tight-knit enclave of white families of mixed ethnicities in suburban New York.
A few feet away, her friend and neighbor Fran was ranting hateful things about former President Obama in front of a sign that said "#BallsMatter," a testicular variation on the "Blue Lives Matter" slogan that was popular on buttons in the crowd. As we talked, Denise winced at some of Fran's more extreme opinions.
Denise was one of 16 Trump supporters from New York and Texas whom I interviewed in downtown Washington in the hours before the inauguration. Other than Fran, none of the Trump supporters expressed any hateful thoughts in my presence. One father from East Texas glanced around at the mostly white, working-class people dressed in jeans and windbreakers and told his two tween daughters, "This is the last stand of the normal people."
I thought his understanding of American normality was pathetically limited, but I don't assume it was racist or sexist; I mostly felt sorry for the two girls. He declined to share his name.
The women among Trump's supporters did not hesitate to defend the man or the protesters' right to march. "As long as it is peaceful," said one. "Just behave yourself," said another.
I conducted my interviews on Friday, hours before some 200 people were arrested in protests that involved both peaceful civil disobedience and violent actions. Anti-fascist anarchists in black masks—most of them male—burned a limousine, to the delight of Fox and Breitbart News.
I have not seen any reports of arrests at Saturday's much larger, women-dominated march.
When I asked what Trump's female fans would say to women marching the next day, they sang a chorus: "Give the man a chance," said Hope Ramirez of Houston, Texas.
Ramirez, accompanied by her husband, Willie, and her daughter and son-in-law, said she was "feeling wonderful, excited, thrilled," by Trump's ascendancy. She and her husband were Trump supporters from the start, she said.
"When he pointed out that middle-income people have been left behind, we cried," she said.
"He's for business. He's for the economy. He's for the poor. He's for everybody," said Willie Ramirez, "So why not give him a chance?"
"We gave Obama a chance," Hope added. "Why can't they do that?"
Trump's female fans discounted complaints about Trump's behavior toward women. Just as Hillary Clinton denied the veracity of Bill Clinton's accusers, these women rejected the veracity of the 13 women who have put out statements saying Trump groped or fondled them against their will.
"They're all lies," Creighton said. "They're mostly false."
Whatever Trump's transgressions, his female supporters said his behavior did not disqualify him from leading the country. They spoke in a language their more feminist sisters might call outdated or "gendered." They call it common sense.
"He's a man," said Jamie, a homemaker and mother of three from Rockport, New York, near Niagara Falls. "He's surrounded by women. He does not offend me in that way."
Hope Ramirez's daughter alluded to King David in the Old Testament, an adulterer and a murderer. "God can work his will through an unrighteous man," she said.
Creighton just shrugged.
"He's very heterosexual, if that's what you want to know," she said. "Like my mother said, a man is a man is a man is a man."
Creighton did not like President Obama's policies, describing his presidency as "a missed opportunity."
"Here's a guy that had the majority of the vote and he could have really extended a hand to Republicans," she said. "He's a phenomenal speaker, eloquent and poised. He had the best possible education," she said. "But there are some things you can't teach."
Creighton believes a president must embody a biological instinct to protect. She used a female metaphor to describe Trump's authority: "like a lion and her cubs."
"If you don't have that chutzpah," she said, "it's not happening."
Creighton said her hope was that Trump would get together with his predecessor.
"I think Trump is going to do what Obama couldn't do," she said. "If those two could be good friends, oh man, that would be a beautiful thing."
That struck me as something a male Trump supporter was very unlikely to say. I hastened to agree. Beautiful? Maybe. Improbable? Definitely.