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Imperfect debater but strong on economy, Trump supporters say

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(The Center Square) – His view of the presidential debate while out on a hot Friday for the campaign trail stopping in Virginia was like many across America.

Jim, a retiree from Norfolk, said, “I thought they were pretty much ridiculous. I didn’t get a whole lot out of it, and it wasn’t my idea of what a debate should have been. It was more of a mudslinging contest between both candidates.”

He came to former President Donald Trump’s rally on Friday in Chesapeake, his first stump speech after debating President Joe Biden on Thursday night in Atlanta’. Though Virginia isn’t considered a swing state for the 2024 election, a reputable Roanoke College poll in May showed Biden and Trump neck-and-neck, with 42% of voters saying they would vote for Biden and 42% saying they would vote for Trump.

Despite a debate performance that Jim found unimpressive, he still expressed confidence in what the former president could do for the economy.

“I seem to do better when he’s president,” Jim told The Center Square, speaking of Trump. “My personal wealth has suffered greatly in the last three-and-a-half years, and I take that personal. I’m going to have to live off of that, and if it goes away, I have nothing to live off of.”

Jim supported Trump in the previous two elections, but had never attended a Trump rally before Friday.

Another first-time Trump rally attendee, Robin Morris from Chesapeake, agreed the debate wasn’t his best moment but thought it was worse for Biden. Much of America agreed.

“I thought it definitely showed we don’t want Biden in,” Morris told The Center Square. “I don’t think Trump was at his finest either, but I still think he totally won the debate between the two.”

But, like Jim, Morris believes Trump brings qualities to the presidency that can help everyday Americans.

“I like him because I’m an accountant, and I think he’s got a business sense and business skills and I think we need that in the U.S.,” Morris said.

Thousands gathered Friday at the Historic Greenbrier Farms in Chesapeake to hear Trump speak, where spirits were high for the former president and for Virginia. Trump vocalized support for Republican state leadership, including the governor and several congressional candidates he had endorsed.

“He’s got common sense, he’s got great policy,” Trump said of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin. “He’s got the policy that made America great. We’re proud of him. He’s done a great job.”

Trump spoke enthusiastically of Hung Cao, retired Navy captain and former special operations officer who’s running against longtime Sen. Tim Kaine, a former governor.

“We’re thrilled to be joined today by many outstanding Virginia patriots – great people – including the next senator from the commonwealth of Virginia, Hung Cao!” Trump said. “What do you think? Is he going to win, Glenn? Are you gonna help him?”

He also advocated for Derrick Anderson, who’s running against Trump whistleblower Eugene Vindman, and state Sen. John McGuire, who – with Trump’s endorsement – appears to have eeked out a victory over incumbent Bob Good. The race has not officially been called and Good has requested a recount.

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