Arizonas God, guns and Trump country is starting to doubt – Los Angeles Times

A veteran of the Air Force, Kennedy said he had actually grown wary of the presidents blunt design over the last few years. The turning point for him came this month when protesters outside the White House were pushed back by authorities so Trump could stroll to St. Johns Episcopal Church to be photographed by news crews.
” It turned me off,” Kennedy stated. “Breaking up a serene demonstration simply for a media event.”

Current surveys show Trump now tracks presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden in the governmental race– a turnaround driven in part by the erosion of his once-commanding lead among white voters in battleground states such as Arizona.
To attempt to fortify assistance, Trump has actually gone to the state 3 times in the last five months, consisting of last week for an appearance at a Phoenix megachurch.
In Mohave County, a large area of desert where 90% of the 212,000 locals are white and 73% of the vote opted for Trump in 2016, there is still deep support for the president.
He is facing brand-new difficulties here, such as lightening issues that he and the federal government have actually mishandled the coronavirus. The U.S. death toll of more than 127,000 is the greatest on the planet.

” Hes a shame,” stated Ron Kennedy, 72. “And I chose him.”

In this dry stretch of northwestern Arizona, Trump project signs dot the desert landscape, and Trump flags fly from the backs of dusty pickup.
Last fall, an event called “Trumpstock” outside the town of Kingman featured a Trump impersonator, a pro-Trump rap artist and a menu of “M.A.G.A. Subs.” Last month, thousands of individuals blasted timeless rock and circled around Lake Havasu in a Trump-themed boat parade.
” This whole location is based around individuals who have the very same thing in typical,” stated Alan Morris, a 36-year-old who got involved in the parade. “God, weapons and Trump.”
Now, as the country faces the coronavirus pandemic, an economic recession and mass protests against cops brutality and bigotry, some voters in the longtime Republican stronghold of Mohave County have begun to have 2nd ideas about the president.

4 years earlier, 57-year-old Keith Eaton viewed Trump as a refreshing change– an outsider who didnt speak like a political leader and appeared to act based upon his gut.
” I just wished to see what would take place,” stated Eaton, who informed himself: “At the very least its gon na be a circus we can enjoy.”
However Trumps novelty has diminished, he stated.
” The absence of leadership with this whole COVID thing, the disrespect for the professionals that do this stuff … the last four months have actually turned me method, method more versus him,” said Eaton, a firefighter. “Theres no other way I would elect him at this moment. And a great deal of guys I understand feel the exact same.”

Sam Scarmardo, head of the Mohave County GOP, stated that if individuals have actually been changing their minds on Trump its just since of “the left-wingers who are doing everything they can to ruin him and bring the country to its knees.”.
” A lot of people believe coronavirus was exaggerated to harm Trump,” he stated.

And yet, a couple of weeks ago, a surprising thing took place down the street from the gun store. A couple dozen people gathered for a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
More demonstrations were held in Kingman, about 60 miles away.
At each event, individuals were surpassed by counter-protesters, a few of whom were armed with rifles.

Eaton still anticipates Trump to win Mohave County, though by less of a margin than he did four years earlier.

” Its been horrible,” agreed his better half, Victoria.
He prepares to vote again for Trump in 2020, but he stated that his child, who elected Trump 4 years back, is unsure. She works for the local school district and is pushed back by the presidents immigration policies that make life harder for Latino students and their households.
They have actually had conversations as a family about the topic, with Jeff arguing that unlawful immigration is a law-and-order problem. Those talks dont normally end well.
So the family came up with a solution, said Victoria: “We just do not talk politics.”.

Retired law enforcement officer Jeff Page, 57, stated the protests made him question whether racial bias had actually ever played a role in his own policing.
He concluded that it hadnt.
” I did 28 years in law enforcement in Idaho, and I can tell you that theres not one individual that I ever dealt with who desired to head out and find somebody to beat or eliminate up,” he stated on a recent afternoon at No Name Bar, a saloon in Lave Havasu City where he, his better half and some pals had collected for beers.
” Its been very unpleasant,” Page stated of the current demonstrations.

In an interview in the back space of his Lake Havasu City weapon shop, where his four rescue dogs circled underfoot, he checked off what he sees as Trumps accomplishments: the rollback of Obama-era clean-energy rules, the movement of the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, new policies that make it harder for migrants to seek asylum in the United States.
” Hes gotten more done than the last 20 presidents,” said Scarmardo.

Scarmardo said voters in Mohave County have a Wild West mind-set and are naturally drawn to Trumps defense of gun rights, his disdain for government regulation and his vow to stop unapproved migration from the Mexican border, which lies 150 miles to the south.

Sam Scarmardo, head of the Mohave County GOP, at his gun store in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
( Kate Lithicum/ Los Angeles Times).

Federal government officials who kept an eye on the event stated they were less afraid of looting than of the protesters getting shot.
The demonstrations ended peacefully– and even stimulated new type of soul-searching.

His store, Sams Shooters Emporium, includes a life-size cardboard cutout of the president by the front door and a publication board that looks like Trumps Twitter feed come to life. One poster concerns the authenticity of President Obamas birth certificate; another compares the hijab used by U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar to a diaper.
In the bathroom are copies of previous First Lady Michelle Obamas autobiography– whose pages are used as toilet tissue.
Such unapologetic display screens of the sort of dissentious and bigoted views accepted by Trump have never ever been an issue here, said Scarmardo.
” We do not get much argument,” he said.