Commerce, Georgia — When former President Donald Trump is trying to refine his message about Russia’s war with Ukraine, his base is split on the issue of American involvement in Eastern Europe.
“It’s not our job,” said Peggy Bright, 57, just before Trump talked to an unusually restless and calm crowd here on Saturday night. ..
“I’m not Putin’s lover, but if it were here in America, that our president would take care of our people, just as the president would take care of our people. I look forward to it, “Bright said. Local bookbinding facility. “I understand what Putin is doing.”
Bright’s sentiment reflects the sentiment of a part of the Trump base, and the early admiration of former President Putin, but it is not universal. In conversations with Trump voters in and around this town, approximately halfway between Atlanta, South Carolina and Greenville, the scope of thought is to send U.S. troops from giving Putin free control at one end. Spread to.
It may help explain the contradictions in Trump’s message when Western democracy blamed Putin, imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions on Russia, and united to arm Ukraine.
All the time, Trump blamed Biden for the Russian invasion, but he stopped praising Putin. On Saturday, Trump called the war “Putin’s vicious attack.”
“When I thought it wouldn’t get worse, Joe Biden couldn’t completely stop Russia’s disgraceful invasion of Ukraine,” Trump said. A well-meaning person. “
Biden, whose approval rate has just dropped to 40% in NBC News polls, sought to increase pressure on Putin without involving the US military in a wider war. Biden, speaking to European leaders in Warsaw, Poland, appeared to be demanding a change of power in Russia.
Biden’s aides scrambled for not explicitly stating the new US policy, but his words-Putin “cannot maintain power” -may not disappear.
Some Trump supporters will welcome a stronger US reaction.
At a rally on Saturday, Putin couldn’t be stopped without direct US intervention, Trump voters born in Latvia and living in Atlanta.
“I love America, I love the army, but I think we need to send them there,” Roberts said. It’s done until he gets exactly what he wants. “
When asked if it meant that the United States had to remove Putin from power, she said, “That’s exactly what I’m suggesting.”
In an interview, Trump supporters here largely agreed with the former president’s claim that Putin would not have invaded if Trump was elected in the second phase. They also criticized Biden from both angles.
There is little in common about what to do now, and some Trump supporters have revealed deep ambivalence.
“At this point, it’s hard to decide if we should be more or less involved,” said Melanie Collier, 60, a consultant planning a special event. It’s an innocent way, but we still don’t know exactly what’s happening in leadership. “
Her comments reflect Trump’s long-standing suspicions of the Ukrainian political class. Trump has been accused of refraining from parliamentary-approved assistance to Ukraine to have President Volodymyr Zelensky announce an investigation into Biden and Biden’s son Hunter.
“We’re starting to lean towards’a little restraint’,” Putin added, but Putin said he was “off track” and “he must be stopped.”
Ron Smith, who traveled two hours to see Trump from Silva, North Carolina, was similarly torn.
“Ukraine is not a perfect country,” he said, but “we are the light of hope and the whole world is looking at us.” Biden was too late to send weapons to Ukraine, but said, “We don’t need it.” American blood in that soil. ”
For some Trump supporters, even providing weapons is too much.
“We should sit down and see what they can do for themselves,” said Chad Gary, who runs a car service store in Henry County, southeastern Atlanta. Guns etc. I’m not against helping them, but at the same time, it’s not our fight. ”
Gary said he was “probably” worried that the United States would be further involved in the war.
“I think Putin as a person is, to be honest, a powerful president like Trump. You can’t send billions of dollars here when you need it,” he said.
Andrew Johnson, 33, who works at a distribution center in Maysville, not far from the rally, said the United States has a responsibility to support Ukraine.
“Because we forced it into the hands of Russia, that is, we now have no choice but to protect them,” he said, referring to NATO’s openness, which admits Ukraine. Do you leave them to dry? They are humans, whether they are Americans or not. ”
When it comes to Russia’s war in Ukraine, it is difficult to identify one policy preference for the Trump base, let alone an overall approach.
Some of Trump’s world’s most influential players, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, are very critical of Ukraine and have enough sympathy for Putin to be amplified by Russian propaganda machines. However, many major Republicans, including Tucker’s allies in Congress, are enthusiastic about their support for Ukraine and their opposition to Russia.
Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s most loyal friends in Congress, called for Putin to be assassinated.
At least one Trump voter here reassured Trump that he would not be held responsible as the United States responded to the war in Europe.
“I’m glad he’s not president now,” said Brenda Watkins, 77, a retired school teacher from nearby Madison County who chose not to attend the rally on Saturday.
“I’m terribly disappointed and anxious about what’s happening in the world,” said Watkins. “I don’t think President Biden is doing it well, but President Trump is there too.” I hate to say that. “