GREEN BAY — As she waited in line to enter Donald J. Trump’s rally at the KI Convention Center, Sally Anne Werner did not have kind words for the top Wisconsin Republicans who weren’t joining her in Green Bay on Friday night.

“I think they’re acting like little brats,” said Werner. “If Trump loses, I blame them — Paul Ryan, Scott Walker … all of the little baby boys that don’t want to support the official nominee.”

Marianne Pettey, of Green Bay, who stood on the concrete floor inside the convention hall waiting for Trump to arrive, had these words for the governor and house speaker: “Pull up your big boy pants and get with the program.”

Some of Trump’s supporters said the absence of high-profile Republicans — such as Ryan, U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson and Walker, who skipped the rally to attend a spaghetti dinner in a small town 250 miles away — wasn’t a concern, chalking it up to elected officials having busy schedules.

But for others, it showed that top Republican politicians, many of whom had only recently come around to endorsing Trump, were going back on their word to support the party’s candidate.

“He’s the nominee — get over it,” said John Sarns, a Navy veteran from Green Bay. “If you’re not going to support him, why should we support you?”

“Paul Ryan — as far as I’m concerned I would not vote for him,” Sarns’ wife, Jackie Sarns, added.

“I wouldn’t vote for Scott Walker either,” John Sarns replied.

Behind the Sarnses, Trump supporters from around the state stood in a line Friday afternoon that stretched down a block of Main Street in Downtown Green Bay.

In interviews with more than 20 supporters, many said they shared the worries that have sent Republican voters flocking to the New York real estate mogul’s campaign.

They were concerned about terrorism.

“ISIS scares the heck out of me,” said Jeanne Thom, of rural Racine County.

They were concerned about immigration.

“I’m totally against them coming in by the thousands, and we’re paying for them,” said Marilyn Blazejewski, of DePere. “A lot of them are bad people.”

They were concerned about the economy, frustrated by low-paying jobs and sure that Trump’s business acumen was the key to a brighter future.

“If anyone can save the economy it’s Donald Trump,” said Brandon Fritsch, of Kaukauna.

And they shared a deep antipathy for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — several wore buttons or T-shirts with the slogan “Hillary for prison,” and vendors sold souvenirs with vulgar references to the former senator and secretary of state.

About a dozen protesters stood holding signs denouncing Trump across the street from the convention center. Passing cars honked their horns in solidarity with Trump fans in line, while others shouted out their windows to condemn the nominee.

Cheeseheads and Green Bay Packers jerseys were fittingly on hand; Christopher Handler, known for painting his fence across from Lambeau Field with Packer slogans, said his next goal was to paint the wall Trump has promised to build along the border with Mexico.

After a week in which Trump came under scrutiny from veterans and fellow Republicans for criticizing the family of Humayun Khan, a Muslim solider who was killed in Iraq, many supporters said Trump should have handled the situation better.

“He’s got to start acting like a grown up,” Army veteran Tony Lutzke said.

But several, including Lutzke and other veterans, instead blamed Khizr Khan, the deceased soldier’s father who delivered a sharp criticism of Trump at the Democratic National Convention, saying he incited the controversy.

No one interviewed Friday said Trump’s sparring with the Khan family made them seriously reconsider voting for him.

For many supporters, the controversies Trump’s comments and tweets have spurred since the start of his campaign are a side-effect of their favorite aspect of the man: His unpolished style.

“At times, his comments are stupid,” said Roxann Gerrits, of Green Bay. “He doesn’t think before he speaks, but I think that’s the best thing about him: He speaks his mind.”


(c)2016 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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