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How Americans see President Trump, according to three regional newspapers

February 22, 2017 at 6:40 PM EDT
What do Americans think of President Trump’s time in office so far? Judy Woodruff asks newspaper editors from around the nation -- David Bradley of the St. Joseph News-Press, David Haynes of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Lee Ann Colacioppo of The Denver Post -- to weigh in on what they are hearing from their readers.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Now that we’re one month into the Trump administration, we wanted to get a sense of how different parts of the country are assessing the president’s time in office.

To do that, we have asked newspaper editors from three states to tell us what they’re hearing from readers in their communities. And they join us now.

Lee Ann Colacioppo is the editor of The Denver Post. David Haynes is the editorial page editor for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Wisconsin. And David Bradley is the editor of The St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri.

And we welcome all of you to the NewsHour.

David Bradley, I’m going to start with you.

Missouri is a state that went heavily for Donald Trump. He won by something like 20 points. What are you hearing right now from your readers about how he’s doing?

DAVID BRADLEY, St. Joseph News-Press: I think people are fairly well satisfied with what Donald Trump is doing now.

I think he’s done a lot of things that he said he would do. He’s made a few misstatements over the last few weeks, but what he’s done, I think, has been pretty impressive.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo, what about your readers in Denver around Colorado?

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO, The Denver Post: We’re getting a lot of really mixed results, mixed phone calls.

We have got people calling up really upset, angry with the Trump administration, angry with us when we have editorialized in the vein of he’s lying. And then we have got a lot of people who are — so we’re really hearing from both sides.

JUDY WOODRUFF: OK, we are going to pursue that.

David Haynes, what about in Milwaukee? What are you picking up from your readers?

DAVID HAYNES, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: Well, Judy, it always depends on who you talk to.

Liberals in our state don’t have much use of Donald Trump. Independents are a little bit divided, although they are concerned about what has been reported as some of the chaos in the White House. Conservatives in Wisconsin didn’t support Donald Trump in the primary. They went for Ted Cruz, and so they’re still a little wary and worried that the agenda of Paul Ryan, who is from our state, may not get passed in the way they’d like.

But what I hear from Trump supporters, mostly, is you in the media need to let him get his administration organized. And I often hear them saying that, you know, Bill Clinton didn’t exactly have an easy transition either, but, in the same breath, they often will say, but, gosh, I wish he would stop tweeting at 3:00 in the morning.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what about that, David Bradley, in Saint Joseph, Missouri? You mentioned a few misstatements, but is that just a small part of what you’re hearing? What are people saying about the tweets and the other — some of the controversial statements he’s made?

DAVID BRADLEY: I think people really are getting turned off by all the protests and all the antagonism going on.

And I think they would just like people to sit back, relax, let him try to run the country and work with Congress and try to get some things done that he said.

You know, he’s done 24 executive orders. He’s done — he’s appointed a Supreme Court justice for the Congress to approve. He has met with several foreign leaders, four foreign leaders. He has talked with a lot of business leaders and labor leaders in this country, and he’s gotten the pipelines opened up so they can finish the pipelines.

He’s done quite a few things, appointed 15 members of the Cabinets. I know it’s been delayed, but he’s trying to get those through. So he’s done a lot of things, I think, that are going in the right direction. He’s made a mistake, I think, on his order on the immigration from those seven countries. He’s correcting that now.

And I think he’s doing everything he can to try to keep the country safe.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo in Denver, again, are you hearing some of those same sentiments where you are?

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: I would say that we are probably hearing more people who are concerned about the direction of the administration. We are getting a lot of protests, it seems like almost every day.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And we should say that Colorado is a state that Hillary Clinton won by about five points.

So, let me come back to you, David Haynes, in Wisconsin.

You were saying there’s a mixture of reactions to the president there. What about on the immigration order, the tightening announced this week and then the seven-country travel ban?

DAVID HAYNES: Well, immigration, as in many states, is an issue that cuts both ways. We have a large population of recent immigrants in the Milwaukee area, mostly from Mexico.

There was a big Day Without Latinos rally here. But when you get out into the state, out into the rural areas, where Donald Trump won by large margins, he won our state by about 10,000 votes, small margin overall, but he piled up votes in the rural areas.

In those areas, that’s also where dairy farming is in Wisconsin. And dairy farms in Wisconsin employ — about 40 percent of their hired hands are immigrants, many of them undocumented. And so you have a situation in that area of the state where you have neighbors who — maybe a farmer who has undocumented immigrants working for him, and down the road a neighbor who went a Trump rally and was chanting don’t build the wall, so it’s quite a dichotomy here on that issue.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Bradley, in Missouri, where you are, again, as we said, Saint Joseph’s, how much of an issue is immigration and the president’s attempt to tighten enforcement of the immigration laws resonating there?

DAVID BRADLEY: I don’t think people are against immigration in our part of the world.

I think they would like to see it done legally, and they would like to go through the regular legal channels. We have a lot of immigrants working in our beef-packing or pork-packing houses in Missouri, and a lot of them are great workers. But we would like to see them go through legal channels.

And, really, the main concern of people in our area, they want more and better jobs. They want a more pro-business environment and not have so many regulations, so we can grow the number of jobs and good jobs in our community.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Lee Ann Colacioppo in Denver, how much are you hearing from people about that, about, you know, kind of like what David Bradley said a minute ago, that some people just want the president to get on with it and start to do something about creating jobs?

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: You know, I don’t — it seems like, from the job creation standpoint, that is not one of the subjects that we are hearing a whole lot about.

I think we’re hearing more about concerns about the health — health insurance has been big in the discussion. Immigration has been big. But I haven’t heard as much from people discussing the economy.

I have heard — the bigger part has been wishing that so much of the kind of national talk hasn’t — wasn’t drifting into, say, state legislature and city councils and other parts of the political spectrum.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean? You mean that they think more should be done in Washington or less?

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: More that the nastiness of the national debate has worked its way into legislative bodies here that are usually more civil.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, David Haynes — I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

But, David Haynes in Milwaukee, is there a sense there that the national debate has gotten rougher in the last couple of months?

DAVID HAYNES: Well, it’s been going on in Wisconsin for six years.

We have had — we’re one of the most polarized states in the country. But I don’t think there is any question that the national debate is more fractured and tougher.

Our newspaper, in fact, just hosted last night a community conversation, first of several we’re going to do, in which we’re trying to bring people together face to face across that divide and talk about it.

But it’s a tough — it’s a tough thing to do, because we have kind of retreated to our echo chambers. And there is a great deal of tribalism in terms of people are kind of locked in and — into positions.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Bradley, back to you in Missouri.

What would you say — finally, I want to ask all three of you, what are people that you’re hearing from most wanting to see from this president?

DAVID BRADLEY: I think people in our area would like to see a better form of taxation that’s pro-growth, that helps us grow our companies and grow our jobs in our area.

I think people will like to see less regulations, hopefully, that bog down businesses from growing and adding more jobs and good jobs. And I think they would like to see a better sense of communication between all sides, so they can talk to each other in a civil manner and get together and work together, not just antagonize each other and just wind up trying to delay everything.

And there is an attitude that anything he does is not right today, and that kind of attitude is not going to work if you’re trying to work with a president and a legislature to work together.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Are they putting the blame — just quickly, David Bradley, so are they putting the blame on Republicans or Democrats or everybody?

DAVID BRADLEY: I think both sides are pointing at each other. And I think they wound up — I think there is a way to get together and talk and hopefully try to work things out.

And I don’t think Trump is willing — is determined to get everything he wants, and I don’t think the Congress is going to get everything they want. But there has got to be some form of compromise there, and we can make some headway and get this country off its stagnation.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly to the other two of you.

Lee Ann Colacioppo, hopes for this administration from your people in your area?

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: I hear a lot of — very similar to what he was just saying, I hear a lot of people just wishing that the nasty tone would come down and that there wouldn’t just be a stalemate in Congress, and that they would all be able to work together to get something done that would incorporate the thoughts of both parties, compromise, basically.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Haynes, finally, in Milwaukee, what are the hopes?

DAVID HAYNES: Well, I think one of the hopes right now is that the White House can become less chaotic and more professional.

It really seems to be like amateur hour right now. And for both conservatives and independents in our state, there is concern that it’s hard to get anything done if there isn’t good leadership coming from the White House.

JUDY WOODRUFF: We want to thank all three of you for joining us.

Lee Ann Colacioppo, The Denver Post, David Bradley, The St. Joseph News-Press in Missouri, and David Haynes, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in Wisconsin, we appreciate it.

LEE ANN COLACIOPPO: Thank you.

DAVID HAYNES: Thank you.

DAVID BRADLEY: Thank you. Enjoyed it.

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