Interviews with Trump Supporters at USC


Whether you’re a Donald Trump supporter or not, it’s hard to deny that the release of his Access Hollywood tape has been a defining moment in this election, causing irreversible damage to his campaign. Prominent Democrats and Republicans both have spoken out against his comments, describing them as the unacceptable language of sexual assault, subsequently undermining his credibility.

On one hand, Trump supporters argue that his “locker-room talk” excuse is sufficient, and that the media and public seem to be condemning him unfairly for what is largely a normalized fixture in male-only conversations. Conversely, others claim that his dismissive apology is indicative of a more sinister rape culture and toxic masculinity that Trump’s character seems to embody, and that a man capable of making such comments is unfit for the presidency.

Because of the nature of our predominantly liberal college campus, our conversations, whether in-person or on Facebook, will largely revolve around critiques of Trump’s comments and viewpoints, past and present. These conversations will most probably consist of denouncing and characterizing Trump voters as irrational, illogical, and misogynistic not unlike Hillary Clinton’s controversial “basket of deplorables” statement. I, too, am certainly guilty of stereotyping Trump voters and jumping too quickly to conclusions about the issues that matter to them in this election. For this article, I decided to interview two USC students who are Trump supporters, one male, one female, about how they feel about Trump’s stance on women’s issues and their reactions to his comments on women. Both chose to remain anonymous.

To be informed voters, our responsibilities go beyond enclosing ourselves in a political echo chamber, but to try and listen to perspectives that we may not agree with. This is my genuine attempt to try and understand why some of my fellow students at USC, both intelligent, both certainly believers in equal rights and opportunities for women, believe that a Trump presidency will be a beneficial one for our country.

Interview with male USC student

What did you think about Trump’s recent interview comments about groping and kissing women without consent in the Access Hollywood tape?

I think he’s shooting himself in the foot with every step of the election and wondering why it’s getting harder to walk. The comments don’t particularly bother me because there’s plenty of other examples of talk like that in the media. To give an example, the “F*ck her right in the p*ssy” guy on the news became a viral sensation. I heard almost equal men and women laugh about it. Men talk and joke around, I hear phrases like that thrown around every day from both sexes, so it doesn’t bother me.

Did your opinion on Trump change after these comments were released, or did they remain constant?

No, they didn’t change.

Trump has defended his comments repeatedly saying that they were mere “locker-room talk.” Do you think that there is validity to this explanation? For example, have you witnessed similar conversations in closed, male-only spaces?

I think there’s complete validity in these statements. Yes, I’ve heard plenty of similar conversations in male-only spaces and I don’t think this should come by surprise. Think about the ‘male construction worker stereotype’, whistling when a pretty girl walks by; this isn’t exclusive to Trump, in fact, I would be willing to bet that the very men that condemn Trump for these statements have made similar remarks in the past.

If you were a woman, do you think you’d be affected by his past comments about women and the ones that were just released on the tape?

I’d like to think not, simply because I feel I would be rational enough to realize it’s private talk, it’s ‘locker-room talk’, etc. I don’t care if our president makes crude jokes, as long as they do their job then it doesn’t matter. I’d like to point out that I would be more disgusted that Bill Clinton would be allowed back into the White house after proven sexual assault and cheating on his wife. That bothers me substantially more than Trump’s ‘locker-room’ remarks.

How do you think his policies would affect women, if elected?

They won’t. I’ve had this conversation with many of my female friends, none have been able to point out a specific policy, proposed law, or proposed directive that directly affects women’s rights.


Interview with female USC student

How important are women’s issues to you in this political campaign?

I believe that women’s issues are important in general. In this campaign, women’s issues are important but the most important issues for me in this election are foreign policy, national security and the economy.

How would you describe the tone of this election, particularly on women’s issues?

I think that this election is progressive particularly on women’s issues, as we now have our first female nominee for the presidency. I think that the tone of this election is positive for women because we have our first female nominee. Whether I agree with Hillary Clinton’s political views or not, she has reached a great accomplishment by becoming the first female nominee of this country.

What did you think about Trump’s recent interview comments about groping and kissing women without consent in the Access Hollywood tape?

I thought it was inappropriate and it definitely hurt his campaign.

Did your opinion on Trump change after these comments were released, or did they remain constant?

After these comments were released from eleven years ago, it definitely was disappointing, but it did not catch me by surprise. If you asked me before these comments were released if I thought Trump spoke like this, my answer would most probably be “yes.” If you ask me if I think a large portion of men speak like this in private my answer would be “yes” as well. Therefore, it was unfortunate that the American people had to hear the republican nominee use those words. However, it didn’t change the vital things in this election, like Trump’s strong stance on national security, his tax plan, or his foreign policy. It was unfortunate, but I had to refocus on the future of this nation instead of my feelings.

Trump has defended his comments repeatedly saying that it was “locker-room talk.” Do you think that this is a valid argument?

The truth is that it was a private conversation, that’s how I would categorize it. Private conversations are to be kept private because as American citizens, we have a right to privacy. Whether he labels it as locker-room talk or not is irrelevant, because what matters is that he apologizes and admits that it was not appropriate.

As a female, did you feel affected by his past comments about women and the ones that were just released on the tape?

Personally, I was not affected. I have built my character to be strong enough to stand up for myself and women because I know that provocative language is in society. We hear this kinds of provocative language all the time in songs and the truth is that people will talk like this. It is a matter of having enough confidence to condemn it, because it will not be easy to wipe this kind of language from society.

Do you think it is OK for a potential future president of the US to make such comments?

I don’t think it is OK. However, he has apologized and I don’t believe he was planning to run for president eleven years ago. There definitely would be many things said that are not OK if the media found and released the private conversations of nominees from any party or even state officials.  It is just a matter of what gets leaked to the public.

How do you think his policies would affect women, if elected?

I think he would have many beneficial policies toward women. For example, his child care plan which he has created with his daughter Ivanka, will be extremely beneficial for working mothers. Also, there have been many women working on his campaign and in high level positions in his private business. I believe he would produce a cabinet that consists of a fair proportion of women who will work with Mr. Trump on plans which will benefit women.