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Trump's Tumultuous Year Hasn't Dissuaded This Columbus Supporter

Carolyn Kaster
Associated Press

One year after his inauguration, Donald Trump has seen mixed results from his presidency. While he’s made strides on fulfilling promises to his conservative base, his approval from the rest of the country has suffered – he ended 2017 with an approval rating of less than 40 percent.

For many Trump voters, though, the year has only bolstered their enthusiasm. Columbus resident and Republican Jack Etheridge is one of them.

Etheridge traveled to Washington, D.C. last January for Trump’s inauguration, bringing his nephew along. Speaking to WOSU beforehand, he said what made Trump a controversial candidate would make him an effective president.

"I think that adds to some of the intrigue and some of the sense of excitement and perhaps even unpredictability for what's going to happen," Etheridge said. "There's nothing like being there to participate in this great American experience."

Now, Etheridge is pointing to Trump’s success at shepherding a tax reform plan through Congress.

“The effort he’s made with Congress to continue to revitalize the American economy, I would call it the unleashing of the American economy," Etheridge says. "Obviously, Exhibit A is the recently passed tax cut.”

Etheridge also approves of Trump's selection of judges, which most notably included the appointment of conservative Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I feel like he’s nominated a set of outstanding jurists to the federal courts and the Supreme Court,” he says. “These are people I think are committed to applying the original public understanding of the law, as scholars call it, and I think that’s what judges should do.”

Though he does not support building a wall on the Mexican border – one of President Trump’s signature issues – he would like to see lawmakers pay more attention to illegal immigration. And he questions the exact words used by Trump during a recent meeting with Congressional members about immigration.

President Trump has denied reports that he called African nations “s---hole countries” while arguing the U.S. should bring more immigrants from places like Norway. Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle expressed their disapproval of his comments, but Etheridge does not share their concern.

“Of all the political figures, elected leaders and so forth who have apparently made this the major issue of the day, let he who has never uttered a harsh word or an epithet, or said something that he regrets, cast the first tweet," Etheridge says.

Etheridge admits he thinks President Trump, "could rise to the occasion linguistically more often than he sometimes does." But even so, he’s optimistic about what the next three years will hold.

As part of a look back on the anniversary of President Trump's inauguration, WOSU also interviewed an organizer of the Women's March Ohio about the year in protest.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.