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Divided States: Florida Voters Roundtable


And I'm David Greene in Orlando, Fla., for part of our Divided States project. Yesterday, we introduced you to four voters, talking to them about their lives and their feelings about this campaign. They are with us again here in the studio this morning. We have Allen Sale, a semi-retired insurance salesman who is backing Donald Trump. We have Diana Font, who owns an event-planning business. She is a Republican who is supporting Hillary Clinton. We have Annie Ruiz, a mother of three from Miami, who is backing Donald Trump. And we have, last but not least, John Palys, who is a retail associate who is backing Hillary Clinton.

Good morning to all of you, and thank you for spending your early morning with us. We appreciate it.

ANNIE RUIZ: Good morning.

DIANA FONT: Morning.

ALLEN SALE: Good morning.

JOHN PALYS: Good morning.

GREENE: I want to start by playing a couple bits from the debate last night. It was interesting because a lot more on the issues and substance, it felt like. Did that feel like that to you guys?


GREENE: And one of the topics that came up, immigration - this is an issue I know some of you in this room care very deeply about. Let's start with Hillary Clinton, who went after Donald Trump in this answer.


HILLARY CLINTON: When it comes to the wall that Donald talks about building, he went to Mexico. He had a meeting with the Mexican president - didn't even raise it. He choked - and then got into a Twitter war because the Mexican president said we're not paying for that wall.

GREENE: OK. And here on the same subject is Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP: Very unfair that somebody runs across the border, becomes a citizen. Under her plan, you have open borders. You would have a disaster on trade, and you will have a disaster with your open borders.

CHRIS WALLACE: I want to...

TRUMP: But what she...

CLINTON: We will...

TRUMP: ...Doesn't say is that President Obama has deported millions and millions of people just the way it is.

WALLACE: Secretary...

GREENE: OK. Allen Sale, I want to start with you. You are - you've described yourself as a reluctant supporter of Donald Trump but that immigration is something you are in lockstep with him on. What do you think of what you heard?

SALE: I want the laws that we have followed, or I want them changed to where we can follow them. I also feel like we are full. Our roads are already overcrowded with the people that are here - so are hospital emergency rooms, our schools. And I would like to see is either enforce the laws we have...

GREENE: Right.

SALE: ...Or create laws that we can follow.

GREENE: So do like what you heard there from Donald Trump - I mean, going after Hillary Clinton, saying she's going to have open borders?

SALE: Well, we have - we just were talking about it in the back room. We have 580 miles of wall existing on the border now, of one kind or another. Some of them are barriers, but most of it is wall.

GREENE: You...

SALE: I've seen it.

GREENE: You feel better about Donald Trump after hearing what you just did?


GREENE: Oh, OK. No better, no worse?

SALE: No better, no worse.


Diana Font, you are a lifelong Republican backing Hillary Clinton. Do you worry there'll be open borders if she's president?

FONT: I don't think that's going to happen...

GREENE: She said it, though, right?

FONT: ...At all. Yeah. But I don't think it's going to be open the way he's making it sound either. I mean, it's not like a...

GREENE: You feel like he's exaggerating that.

FONT: ...Free-for-all. Yeah, he's definitely. It's like everything else - it's (imitating Donald Trump) huge. I - if that's the case, I think we should get rid of the Statue of Liberty then. You know, send her back to France because we are a nation...

GREENE: What do you mean by that?

FONT: We are a nation of immigrants. We - there's nobody that can say in the United States that they're 100 percent pure blood, whatever you want to call that to be.

GREENE: So did she just misspeak when she said open borders? Is that...

FONT: I don't think it's going to be open borders.


FONT: Again, I'm totally against the fact of being - I'm sorry. It's - I don't think it's going to be an open border.

GREENE: Annie Ruiz, do you agree that Secretary Clinton - when Secretary Clinton said Trump choked on this trip to Mexico? Does she have a fair point?

RUIZ: I don't think so. I don't think he choked. He took the initiative, and he went to meet with him. I think that in itself is more than she's done. I also think that - how is he going to negotiate anything? He's not president of the United States yet. You can't choke until you're in office, and then talk to me about that.

GREENE: Although there was an expectation that he would get some commitment that, you know, Mexico might pay for something. Or at least it's - some people looked at that trip that way.

RUIZ: I think he started. He laid the groundwork by going. He did more than she did.

GREENE: John Palys, Clinton is your candidate. Immigration has really been Donald Trump's issue, something she's been on the defensive about. Last night, the moderator, Chris Wallace from Fox News, said that she had offered no specific plan on immigration. Do you feel like you got a specific plan last night?

PALYS: I do feel like I get more solutions from Clinton. I feel like I get more plans from her. You know, like had been mentioned, we already have a wall on the border. And that seems to be Trump's only solution. I think it's something that he actually does to create fear and divide people. You know, we have this talk about open borders. And, you know, Hillary did say open borders. But going back to what Diana said, I don't think that we're just going to have a free flow of people coming in here however they want to.

GREENE: You're saying Trump's exaggerating that a little bit.

PALYS: Yeah, absolutely, you know. And I think, you know, he wants to use certain types of people, demographics of people, as scapegoats. You know, we don't worry about anyone coming in from Canada. Do we? But when it's these terrible Mexicans wanting to climb over this wall, we need to do everything we can to...

GREENE: Those are not your words.

PALYS: ...Keep them out.

GREENE: Those are words that you're putting in Donald Trump's mouth, I presume.

PALYS: Exactly, to paraphrase him - I mean, he's actually said a lot worse than that. And I think we all know that.


PALYS: But yeah, I definitely feel like I get solutions-based, you know, answers from Hillary as opposed to let's-just-build-a-wall from Donald Trump.

GREENE: All right. Lots more to come from all of you. We're going to talk more about some other stuff that came up in the debate. We just really appreciate you all being here this morning. Thank you.

All right. I want to turn to our colleague Scott Detrow who is in Washington to fact-check a couple of things here. Scott, good morning to you.


GREENE: Let's stay on immigration. I want to hear, first, a claim that Hillary Clinton made about Donald Trump.


CLINTON: He used undocumented labor to build the Trump Tower. He underpaid undocumented workers. And when they complained, he basically said what a lot of employers do. You complain, I'll get you deported.

GREENE: Quite a charge - is that true?

DETROW: Yeah. For the most part, it is. A contractor working for Trump did hire Polish workers who were in the country illegally to clear out the site on Fifth Avenue where Trump Tower would be built. This was documented. There was a $500,000 fine involved. Now, Trump says he didn't know - that he was out on the loop - out of the loop on this. But there have been several different reports saying that not only did Trump know, he insisted on hiring these workers. And there have been some reports saying that Trump did threaten to turn the workers into immigration authorities when some complained about the working conditions.

GREENE: OK. One more question Chris Wallace put to Secretary Clinton last night - he's the moderator from Fox News.


WALLACE: Secretary Clinton, I want to clear up your position on this issue because, in a speech you gave to a Brazilian bank, for which you were paid $225,000, we've learned from the WikiLeaks, that you said this. And I want to quote, "my dream is a hemispheric common market with open trade and open borders." So...

TRUMP: Thank you.

WALLACE: ...That's the question...


WALLACE: That's the question. Please, quiet everybody. Is that your dream, open borders?

CLINTON: Well, if you went on to read the rest of the sentence, I was talking about energy.

GREENE: Scott, about 10 seconds - what was Hillary Clinton talking about?

DETROW: Yeah, she does talk about energy after that. But from the brief excerpt we've seen on WikiLeaks, it's not clear that her borders comment was related or just limited to energy policy.

GREENE: All right. That was NPR's Scott Detrow fact-checking last night's presidential debate. We are in Orlando, Fla., as part of our Divided States project. Huge thanks to WMFE in Orlando for letting us invade their studios for two mornings. We also had help from member station WUSF in Tampa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.