Why Trump supporters say the U.S. president is doing a 'phenomenal' job

While some of the actions taken by U.S. President Donald Trump have sparked outrage and demonstrations across the country, many of his supporters seem very pleased. CBC News spoke with some of them in western New York.

Trump has had a busy 2 weeks of executive action since assuming presidency

Woodlawn Deli owner Mike Shafer said Donald Trump has been doing a great job as U.S. president and already accomplished more than his predecessor, Barack Obama. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

In the blue collar town of Blasdell, N.Y., Woodlawn Deli owner Mike Shafer stepped away from the cash register for a few minutes to explain why he believes Donald Trump is doing a great job as U.S. president.

Indeed, Shafer went one step further. Not only has Trump excelled as commander-in-chief during his brief time in office, but he's accomplished more than Barack Obama did in eight years, he said.

"He's stuck to everything he said he's going to do, so far, except put Hillary [Clinton] in jail. That's the only thing he hasn't done."

To be sure, Trump has had a busy two weeks since assuming the presidency, taking executive action on many fronts. He pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, began the process of rolling back the Affordable Care Act and moved forward with the Keystone XL pipeline project.

Executive orders

He also signed an executive order to begin planning the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants. And he barred Syrian refugees from coming into the U.S. indefinitely and imposed a 120-day ban on all refugees and 90-day ban on visitors coming from seven Muslim-majority countries. He also dismissed the country's acting attorney general who refused to enforce the travel ban and nominated conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

"At least he's trying to do stuff right away. Not just sit back," said Ray Sanford, a truck driver who made a quick stop at the deli to pick up a sandwich. "I think he's going to do a good job. He's got the ambition to go and do stuff."

Ray Sanford gives Trump high marks for his first two weeks in office. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

While some of Trump's moves have sparked outrage and demonstrations across the country, many of his supporters seem very pleased.

Pro-Trump sentiment was certainly shared among many of the customers who trickled in for lunch at the small Woodlawn Deli, an establishment that is half restaurant, half grocery store. It's located on the west side of a major road that cuts deep through this Rust Belt area, which is home to a Republic Steel plant.

Blasdell is about 13 kilometres south of Buffalo, and both the town and the city are part of Erie County, which went for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Still, Trump won 44.4 per cent of the vote — the highest percentage for a Republican candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984, according to Politifact.

Trump signs his controversial executive order to impose tighter vetting of travellers entering the U.S. (Reuters)

But those kinds of statistics don't interest Shafer, who said he doesn't really follow politics. 

Except this year he decided to vote for president for the first time since Ross Perot ran for office in 1992.

"I'm just sick of it," Shafer said. "Sick of the same-old bull crap, same people getting in, promising you this, promising you that and doing absolutely nothing."

Trump was and is different, he said, someone who would tell it like it is and, so far, is just doing what he said he was going to do.

That includes Trump's controversial executive order to impose a temporary ban on refugees.

'Should be properly vetted'

"Do you lock your door at night? I lock my door at night. We don't just want anybody walking in," said Dave Thompson, sitting at one of the deli's tables, eating a wrap. "They should be properly vetted. They haven't been properly vetted."

Thompson, who engraves industrial steel rolls, said Trump is doing "an excellent job" and praised him for his executive orders, including the one that begins the process of rolling back Obamacare.

Dave Thompson said Trump's inaugural speech was 'beautiful.' (Mark Gollom/CBC)

He also "loved every minute" of Trump's inaugural speech, which was hammered by critics who characterized the address as a dark, confrontational, campaign-style polemic. 

"I thought it was beautiful," Thompson said. "It was very positive. He's going to take on crime. He's going to take on all this stuff in this country that everybody's ignored."

He got in there and started working right away. He didn't sit back, he didn't go on vacation. He didn't go to Hawaii. He didn't go on the golf course. He's working.- Trump supporter Sue Fassl

But not everyone at the Woodland Deli was enamoured with Trump's first two weeks.

"Horrible," said John Yeager, when asked to describe Trump's presidency thus far. 

"Just across the board, just everything he's doing, everything on the news that's been negative about him," he said.  "I've never had a president of our country where I've seen other countries protesting him."

'Feel like they're entitled'

But in nearby North Tonawanda, part of Niagara County, which did go for Trump, Sue Fassl dismissed those demonstrating across the U.S. against the president.

Most of them are nothing but a bunch of whining millennials, a product of a system that has "sugar coated everything all their lives," said Fassl, owner of Designer Sportswear. 

"They don't have any idea of the real world," she said. "They feel like they're entitled to everything but they don't have to work for anything. Half of them don't have to balance a cheque book."

Fassl said she loves Trump, and that "he's been doing phenomenal."

"He got in there and started working right away. He didn't sit back. He didn't go on vacation. He didn't go to Hawaii. He didn't go on the golf course. He's working."

Sue Fassl said Trump has been doing 'phenomenal.' (Mark Gollom/CBC)

Over at the National Bowling Store, Larry Okan sat waiting to purchase a new bowling ball. He said he wasn't surprised by reports the president may have had less-than-diplomatic discussions over the phone with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"He likes to fight. It's a good quality. He's a negotiator. I'm a salesman, and I like to negotiate, too. It just goes hand in hand."

Salesman Larry Okan said Trump's reportedly tense calls with the president of Mexico and prime minister of Australia are just a sign that he likes to fight, which is a good quality. (Mark Gollom/CBC)

But Steve Hocking, who's "kind of neutral on Trump," said it's too soon to judge the new president and he'd rather re-evaluate him after his first 100 days.

"Who knows, he might get us into a big mess," he said. "Or, the skies will get clear."


Mark Gollom

Senior Reporter

Mark Gollom is a Toronto-based reporter with CBC News. He covers Canadian and U.S. politics and current affairs.