Local Republicans stand behind Trump

By Brandon Fountain and Meghan Haas Herald Review Staff Writers

REED CITY — With all the controversy surrounding disparaging comments about women made by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in 2005, along with waning support among national GOP officials, local politicians and Republican officials continue to support the candidate.

“The people who I speak with are generally outraged and disenfranchised from politicians, on both sides of the aisle,” said Michele Hoitenga, GOP candidate for Michigan’s 102nd District, in an emailed statement. “By nominating Trump, the general public is saying, ‘We’ve had enough of politics as usual.’ I believe many people are looking past Trump’s personal indiscretions because they believe in his proposed policies. For better or worse, he is the person who the people have chosen.”

Michigan GOP Chairman Ronna Romney McDaniel, however, said Trump’s comments do not represent other Republicans.

“As a woman, as the mother of a 13-year-old daughter and an 11-year-old son, and as a Republican, I find Mr. Trump’s comments reprehensible and disgusting,” she said in a statement. “Mr. Trump has apologized for the comments he made 11 years ago, but needs to do so again and again if he hopes to gain back any semblance of public trust.

“I am confident that Michiganders know that Donald Trump’s comments represent only himself, and other Republicans do not share his views. Donald Trump’s comments are his alone to own and I cannot and will not defend them.”

A statement from David Russell, spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, R-Midland, calls for the nominee to apologize, but said the representative still is endorsing Trump.

“Donald Trump’s comments are vulgar and disrespectful,” the statement said. “No one should ever speak or act toward women in such a manner and he should make a full and sincere apology.”

Former Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, who also serves as chair of the Osceola County GOP, said the national press is behind the negativity seen on the Republican candidate.

“No one likes comments from anyone like that,” Johnson said. “But, it was locker room banter. We believe the national press is driving all the negatives toward Donald Trump. What about all the email issues by Hillary Clinton, why aren’t there stories about that?”

Johnson said he believes the comments will not affect Osceola County’s Republican voters.

“I think the county is solid in support of Donald Trump, we’re tired of hearing the negative stuff coming out about old things,” he said. “We’re solidly on board with Donald Trump. I think it’s time the press focuses on the positive things he’s going to do for this country instead of all these negative stories.”

Johnson said he was the first formerly elected official to endorse Donald Trump when the candidate announced he was running for president.

“My wife called me five minutes later and said we’re going to support him, and she’s supporting him more now,” Johnson said. “If you focus on the positives, it’s going to turn around. That’s why people support him.”

Johnson said the people are fed up with politicians like Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney, calling them both elitists.

“We have to get rid of these bums,” he said. “They like (the negativity against Trump) because they only want to play it that way. They’re elitists, and Mitt Romney is more of an elitist than Hillary. He’s just despicable.”

As someone who has been involved with elections since 1978, the former Speaker of the House in Michigan said support for Trump continues to surprise him.

“I have never seen demand like there is for Trump,” he said. “Trump is working to get rid of the elitist people, and people understand that.”