1 year later, Trump sparks hope and pain in Miami

One year into Donald Trump’s U.S. presidency, CBC Radio’s World at Six returns to Miami and finds supporters inspired by his actions and opponents troubled by what they have seen out of the White House.

Supporters remain committed while opponents worry over U.S. president’s actions

Longtime Miami Republican Aida Zayas believes Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency because he speaks for Americans who felt they didn't have a voice in Washington. (Sean Brocklehurst/CBC )

In 2016, CBC Radio's World at Six travelled to Florida, the biggest swing-state prize in the U.S.  

Florida has an uncanny knack for picking presidents. Weeks to go before election day, the national narrative was that the race would finish with a victory for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But on the ground in Florida, that narrative didn't fit.  

There was a fierce anti-Clinton sentiment and some surprising supporters for Republican candidate Donald Trump. 

CBC News returned to Miami this week and caught up with some of the Trump supporters to get their assessment of his first year as president. Trump opponents also spoke about their concerns.

Harold Wanless

(Sean Brocklehurst/CBC)
Harold (Hal) Wanless had never voted Republican until he voted for Trump in 2016.

He was an unlikely convert, a 75-year-old geologist from the University of Miami who ranks as a leading expert on the effects of climate change.  

He told CBC News before the election that while he liked the Democrats' policies on the environment, he didn't trust Clinton to follow through.

"This is where you become totally torn because Hillary says she's into it but only when asked and I don't trust her because of some of the decisions she's made while secretary of state."

Trump had in the past dismissed climate change as a "hoax" perpetrated by the Chinese.   

But Wanless was willing to place his faith in Trump anyway because his Mar-a-Lago mansion in Florida sits only about two metres above the tide line and a low-level parking lot there has flooded several times.

"He's been denying [climate change] less and less," Wanless said.

Based on Trump's experience shoring up the eroding coastline of one of his properties in Scotland, Wanless was convinced Trump was learning the threat is real.

"He's listening. He's changing. I think he's educateable."

As president, Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate change agreement. His budget last spring proposed cutting funding for the Environmental Protection Agency by one-third, with the loss of 20 per cent of its workforce.

But Wanless still supports Trump.

The EPA, he said, had become a bloated bureaucracy and an obstacle to some of its most central goals.

"I'm willing to sit and watch these things get gutted, maybe over-gutted for a period of time because they will be rebuilt as needed."

As Wanless works on his latest book on climate change, he said he's watching Trump closely. And if Trump disappoints, Wanless said he'll be quick to start campaigning against him.  

Aida Zayas

(Sean Brocklehurst/CBC)
Longtime Miami Republican organizer Aida Zayas said in 2016 she knew Trump would win. It was a gut feeling.

"I can just sum it up in one word: Brexit," said Zayas. When the U.K. voted to leave the European Union, "I said to my husband: 'That's what's going to happen with Trump.' "

The Miami-area office manager believes Trump won because he speaks for Americans who felt they didn't have a voice in Washington.

The tough, sometimes "crude" Trump is all about shaking things up, said Zayas, who thinks the media continues to underestimate his support.

"The feeling, the emotion that drove that election, it's still there. And it becomes stronger every day."

Zayas believes the media is unfair to Trump, even out to get him, and that all the Russia investigations will amount to nothing. Impeachment, she said, "isn't going to happen."

Pablo Garcia

(Sean Brocklehurst/CBC)
Pablo Garcia, 72, likes to hang around Miami's go-to Cuban food landmark, the Versailles café.  

He warned CBC three weeks before the 2016 vote that everyone was in for a big surprise, much like the presidential election of 1948.

"It's going to be like Dewey and Truman. Dewey was supposed to win. Truman won," he said.

The construction contractor is not too impressed with Trump's style, calling him "very unorthodox."  

But the self-described "military hawk" wholeheartedly supports the president's tough line on immigration and his handling of the North Korean nuclear weapons threat.

Garcia thinks Trump may initiate some kind of military confrontation with North Korea and he's OK with that.

"It's better us blowing them up before they blow us up, and [Kim Jong-un's] got the weapons to do it," says Garcia.

"You know, if you're going to tell me you're going to kill me, you don't think I'm going to kill you first or try to anyway?"

Jerry Anderson

(Sean Brocklehurst/CBC)
Jerry Anderson, a Miami DJ who voted for Democrat Barack Obama in the past, was pumping up the atmosphere at Martin Luther King Day celebrations this week.

He's worried Trump is pumping up the chances of war with North Korea.

"Don't send us to war for no reason, man. Obama made peace. Keep the peace, man. That's from everybody in this area, from the black neighbourhood here."

He believes Trump has only one constituency.

"Anything other than a rich white person, Donald Trump don't see. He's fooling everybody. They elected him and now they see what they have created."

Sandra Ambersley

(Sean Brocklehurst/CBC)
Sandra Ambersley, a concession vendor in the Brownsville neighbourhood of Miami, was selling Martin Luther King Jr. and Bob Marley paraphernalia and talking peace.

The Democrat thinks Trump "is causing a lot of pain" and "making a greater divide."

"He should think before he talks," she said, referring to Trump's recent vulgar comments about Haitians and Africans.

"Everybody should come together and realize what Martin Luther King Jr. died for and set the precedent for and work toward that instead of looking at this group or that one and that one, you know.  

"Come together and face reality and say that we are all human."