The recent indictment of former President Donald Trump has caused division among Republican voters in the United States. While many GOP officials have rallied around Trump, voters are not as firmly behind him. Some former Trump supporters consider the indictment as another norm-shattering event in Trump’s presidency and believe it is time for the Republican Party to move on and focus on selecting a new nominee for the 2024 presidential election.
For instance, Scott Gray, a land surveyor from Hawthorne, N.Y., voted for Trump in two elections but has grown tired of him. Gray believes Trump did some things right but considers him unpresidential and cannot believe he is still running for office. He is now interested in Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida and Trump’s closest rival for the GOP nomination, according to recent polls of primary voters.
Trump’s indictment has sparked contradictory reactions among Republican-leaning voters, ranging from anger to occasional embarrassment. Some supporters have defended Trump, calling the indictment a sham by a Democratic prosecutor in New York. They believe that the indictment will only strengthen their allegiance to Trump, who has long encouraged his supporters to view attacks on him as attacks on them. Others, however, have grown weary of the scandal fatigue and think that Trump’s time has passed.
Ilyse Internicola and Meghan Seltman, two Trump supporters who work at Wild Cherry Nail and Hair Studio in Port Richey, Fla., discussed the indictment during a break. Ms. Internicola demanded to know how far the indictment would go, while Ms. Seltman said that she would always stay loyal to Trump but would like to see DeSantis have a chance to run for the presidency. She believes that DeSantis has done well with Florida and could restore the nation to how it used to be.
William Stelling, a real estate agent in Jacksonville, Fla., once kept his options open about the 2024 Republican primary. However, the indictment prompted him to support Trump, dusting off his Trump flags and hanging them proudly. Stelling believes that the indictment is a trumped-up charge that proves that Trump is the right candidate.
Debbie Dooley, a Trump loyalist who helped found the Atlanta Tea Party, organized a demonstration for Trump during DeSantis’s visit to suburban Atlanta on Thursday. Dooley believes that the indictment has bolstered her faith that Trump will win the presidency in his third campaign. She is confident that Trump will be the next president of the United States, and the prosecutor’s actions are only helping him.
Allan Terry, a Trump supporter in Charleston, S.C., plans to add a new flag to his truck, despite Trump’s payment to the former porn star, Stormy Daniels, which prosecutors say violated campaign finance and business records laws. Terry believes that if Trump messed around, it does not have anything to do with his presidency. Terry says, “If he did, so what? It’s immoral. It’s wrong. He shouldn’t have done it.”
However, not all previous Trump backers share the same loyalty. A Quinnipiac University poll released before the indictment showed that one in four Republicans and one in three independents believed that criminal charges should disqualify Trump as a presidential candidate. According to a Fox News poll of the potential Republican field this week, Trump had 54% of support from primary voters, followed by DeSantis at 24%, and former Vice President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley in single digits.
Gypsy Russ, who lives in Iowa City, once supported Trump, but she doubts he could win the party’s embrace again. She believes that there are not enough Republicans supporting him and that he has shown repeatedly that he is not presidential. “He’s just very rude,” says Russ.