Reports that Donald Trump referred to certain nations as “shithole countries” during a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office have inflamed his critics and drawn condemnation from the international community.
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, who was there at the meeting with lawmakers to discuss a bipartisan deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, confirmed Friday that Trump used the vulgar term several times. He called the President’s words “hate-filled, vile and racist,” but Trump tweeted that he didn’t use that language. He also denied that he demanded Haitians be excluded from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.
Trump called aides and allies Thursday night to see how the remark was playing in the media, according to two sources familiar with the conversations. But how did it play with his supporters?
CNN spoke to several of them to see if they still support the President after his comments. Here’s what they had to say.
Gene DiFabio, truck driver
Geno DiFabio, a 54-year-old truck driver in Youngstown, Ohio, is a lifelong Democrat who voted for Trump in the 2016 election.
“From the limited accounts I’ve read and heard of the meeting, the President was presented with an intolerable proposal,” DiFabio told CNN in a text message Friday.
DiFabio also pointed out that Trump has expressed his desire to have a “merit-based” immigration system that benefits the US, and Thursday’s proposal “certainly wasn’t that.”
“We are not talking about war refugees or people being persecuted in their countries,” DiFabio said.
But ultimately, DiFabio doesn’t believe the comment will hurt the President with his supporters.
“The language he reportedly used may make some cringe if true,” he said, “but in the grand scheme … it’s not going to turn any supporter I know of from him.”
Brian Welsh, business owner
Brian Welsh, 32, from South Carolina told CNN he initially supported Trump because of his immigration policy, particularly regarding the border wall, which he believed could cut spending on border security.
But how did Welsh feel after the President’s comments on Thursday?
“He really shouldn’t talk about people that way,” said Welsh, a registered Republican. “That’s not nice. I stopped supporting him. He’s let us down.”
Welsh believes the US should “help out other countries.”
“I believed in him and his plan,” Welsh said, “but he’s disappointing me.”
“I still support my President,” said Angie Galvez, a Mexican-American in Los Angeles, California.
However, Galvez does believe the President “should have more filters because he represents the United States.”
“We want him to look more professional,” she said.
Galvez also believed the President wasn’t out of line for asking that Haitians be denied protective status.
“What has Haiti done for us?” Galvez asked. “What have they done to help themselves?”