They love Donald Trump’s strong stance on immigration. They love his talk about bringing back jobs to America. They love that he’s a businessman and a political outsider.
They love the fact he’s not Hillary Clinton.
But as his supporters were leaving a Trump campaign rally in Dimondale on Friday, the one thing they mention most is the Republican Presidential candidate’s honesty.
“I like what he’s saying. He’s honest,” said John Shipman of Dimondale. “I’m tired of the left and the right. I’m tired of politicians.”
That supporters champion Trump as a truth-teller may come as a surprise tomedia fact-checkers and pundits who have slammed Trump as an especially fact-challenged candidate on issues large and small. A sampling: His repeated assertions that he was among the earliest opponents of the Iraq War (not true); saying Hillary Clinton wants to get rid of the Second Amendment (not her stance); suggesting illegal immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than American citizens (not true); saying “thousands” of Muslims in New Jersey were publicly cheering the Sept. 11 attacks (no evidence that happened).
Sheila Forney of Plainwell, who went to the Trump rally with her husband Ray, scoffs at the notion that Trump may skirt the truth at times.
“I just love him,” said Forney, a beautician. “He’s honest. That’s important.”
As for claims to the contrary: “I don’t believe that,” Fornay said. “I think he’s honest as can be. What motive would he have to be otherwise? He could be retired and living on a beach, but he’s not doing that so that he can help us.”
The Fornays said that Trump is the candidate who can bring back jobs, stop factories from leaving the United States, bring positive change to the economy.
“I’m afraid of the kind of change that Hillary will bring if she get in,” Ray Fornay said. “If he gets in, and he gets impeached, well – at least we tried.”
“We’ve got nothing to lose by going with him,” Sheila Fornay said. “Nothing.”
Erick Kalisek of Owosso also loved Friday’s speech.
“It makes me feel like our country is on the right track,” said Kalisek, a truck driver. “I like that Trump will run the country like a business.”
Kalisek likes Trump’s support for the gun rights, securing the border and “keeping jobs in the country and getting jobs back.”
If Trump occasionally misspeaks, that doesn’t bother Kalisek at all.
“I think he’s talking like an average American, the way people do in a coffee shop,” he said.
Deb Cady, a bookkeeper who lives in Mason, said she thought Trump gave a “great” speech on Friday.
“It was so exciting; he has so much energy,” she said. “The main thing is that he’s going to tell the truth, even if it’s an awful truth.”
The rally drew more than 6,000 people, the vast majority of them white. But during his speech, Trump predicted that he would get 95 percent of the African-American vote if he were to win this year and run again in four years, as a result of what he termed as the failed policies of Democrats – including Clinton.
Kendrick Hodge, a computer programmer who lives in Lansing, was one of the few African-Americans in the crowd.
He said that it’s unlikely that Trump will get 95 percent of the black vote. But “he’s going to get a good number,” Hodge said, adding that Trump is right about failed policies.
What about polls that show Trump’s support among black voters is even lower than John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012?
Hodge shrugged. “They haven’t polled me,” he said.
He likes Trump, he said. “He’s not a politician. He offers something fresh and new.”
Another African-American at the rally was Supreem Pearce, a 19-year-old Lansing resident who came to the rally more to see a celebrity than because he’s a Trump supporter.
“To be honest, he had some nice points,” Pearce said. “He said some things that made some sense.”
Pearce said he’s not sure how he will cast his ballot in November. Maybe he’ll vote for Trump. Maybe he won’t.
But Pearce got into the spirit of the crowd. As he walked toward his car, he raised his fist in the air and yelled: “Make America great again!”