Real Clear Politics

By Jill Colvin
September 7, 2015

NORWOOD, Mass. (AP) — Donald Trump insults and exaggerates.

He dismisses the need for public policy ideas, gets confused about world affairs and sometimes says things that flat-out aren’t true.

And the cheers from his supporters only grow louder.

By the standard that voters typically use to judge presidential candidates, Trump probably should not have survived his first day in the 2016 race.

Yet as the summer draws to a close and the initial votes in the nominating calendar appear on the horizon, Trump has established himself as the Republican front-runner.

Listen to these voters:

—”It’s totally refreshing. He’s not politically correct. He has a backbone and he cannot be bought,” said Leigh Ann Crouse, 55, of Dubuque, Iowa.

—”This country needs a businessman just like him to put us back on track, to make us stop being the laughingstock of this world,” said Ken Brand, 56, of Derry, New Hampshire.

—”He says everything that I would like to say, but I’m afraid to say. What comes out of his mouth is not what he thinks I want to hear,” said Janet Boyden, 67, of Chester, Massachusetts.

They are among the dozens of voters interviewed in the past two weeks by The Associated Press to understand how Trump has defied the laws of political gravity.

Uniting them is a deep-rooted anger and frustration with the nation’s political leaders — President Barack Obama as well as conservative Republicans who, these voters say, haven’t sufficiently stood up to his Democratic administration.

Some haven’t voted in years, or ever, and may not next year. But at this moment, they are entranced by Trump’s combination of utter self-assurance, record of business success and a promise that his bank account is big enough to remain insulated from the forces they believe have poisoned Washington.

By the way, they say it’s not that they are willing to look past Trump’s flaws to fix what they believe ills the country. It’s that those flaws are exactly what makes him the leader America needs.

“At least we know where he stands,” said Kurt Esche, 49, an independent who was at Trump’s recent rally outside Boston. “These other guys, I don’t trust anything that comes out of their mouths. They’re lying to get elected. This guy’s at least saying what he believes.”

“He may have started as a joke,” Esche said, “but he may be the real deal.”

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Crouse is a merchandise processor at a retail distributor outside Dubuque, the Mississippi River town where Trump tossed Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a news conference.

A political independent who has never participated in Iowa’s leadoff presidential caucuses, Crouse said she began following Trump from the moment he referred to Mexican immigrants as criminals during his campaign kickoff.

“He’s just attracting people who are frustrated, and as you can see, there are a lot of us,” she said.

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