House Democrats’ ramped-up efforts to investigate President Trump have redoubled support for the president of some of his most loyal champions.
As retirees living on a fixed income, Paula Bedner and her husband don’t have a lot of money to spare.
But when Democratic House members announced last week they were carrying out an impeachment inquiry against Trump, her husband, Don, went online to donate to Trump’s reelection campaign.
The Bedners live in The Villages retirement community in Florida where on Thursday, Trump made his first appearance outside Washington since Democrats ramped up their impeachment inquiry.
“In The Villages, if anything, it has gotten people more determined not to let them get away with it,” said Paula Bedner, who is active in the local Republican women’s club. “People have had enough of this. They see the president is doing good things and the economy is going well.”
Referring to the nickname Trump has given official Washington, she said, “The swamp is fighting hard.”
The support from the retirement community comes amid the uproar surrounding Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the American president sought an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden's dealings in Ukraine That phone call sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives and has the Trump administration facing a new round of subpoenas. The inquiry was touched off by a still-anonymous whistleblower's complaint.
Fellow Villages resident Dale Sutthoff said he wasn’t bothered by reports of Trump’s communication with Zelensky, in part because he felt Trump was looking into any interference in the 2016 election that may have stemmed from Ukraine.
“He’s doing nothing more than protecting us under the law,” Sutthoff said. “It’s just fine.”
Even though they didn’t get invitations to hear Trump, hundreds of The Villages residents congregated in a town square next to the theater where the president was speaking.
Dressed in red “Make American Great Again” ball-caps and wearing “Trump-Pence” T-shirts, they sat in lawn chairs underneath a giant oak tree in the square filled with restaurants. Golf carts, the primary mode of transportation, bore signs that read, “Trump Pence, Keep America Great, Victory 2020.”
In a corner of the town square farthest from the theater, in front of a deli, about 25 anti-Trump protesters gathered with “Impeach 45” and “No More Lies” signs. Some blew whistles to show support for the whistleblower whose report led to the impeachment inquiry. Others chanted “Lock him up!”
At one point, Trump supporters at a neighboring Greek restaurant started shouting at the anti-Trump protesters, who blew their whistles back at them. Other Trump supporters waved Trump flags in front of the protesters, and at several points deputies had to get between the two groups.
Steve Pierson, who retired to The Villages from New York three years ago, wore a T-shirt that said, “Villagers for Trump.” He joined the group last year after residents staged a golf cart caravan that drove through the retirement community to show support for Trump before the midterm elections. He called the impeachment inquiry “political theater.”
“The Villages is overwhelmingly, wholeheartedly pro-Trump,” Pierson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.