Meet the men and women of Mississippi who support Donald Trump

Graham and Johnnie Taylor sit in their living room and talk Wednesday about the upcoming presidential election and why they're supporting Donald Trump.
Graham and Johnnie Taylor sit in their living room and talk Wednesday about the upcoming presidential election and why they're supporting Donald Trump. Clarion-Ledger

Who is Donald Trump’s average Mississippi supporter? Al Roland thinks he's one.

“He and I do think a lot alike,” said the elderly Jackson man, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member.

Roland has voted for Republicans his whole life and won’t break from that tradition in the 2016 presidential election.

Graham and Johnnie Taylor, a retired Rankin County couple, support Trump only as much as they oppose his opponent, Hillary Clinton.

"She's been up there 30 years. If she was going to do anything she would've done done it, I believe," Graham Taylor said, adding that he believes Clinton could bankrupt the nation if elected.

"I think he's an open book; what you see is what you get. Her — she's sneaky," Johnnie Taylor said.

Concerns about immigration

Charles Lindsay, a retired Pelahatchie resident and former owner of the retail store Lindz's A Place Of Christmas, supported Trump in the primary as early as February. He said he appreciates Trump's business background. Lindsay even saw Trump "once or twice" on merchandising trips to New York.

"He just seemed like a super guy, a super businessman," Lindsay said.

Lindsay pointed to job growth and immigration as two of his concerns: too many migrants are entering the country and too many jobs are leaving, he said. And he thinks Trump is the man to address those issues.

Trump has called for a "total and complete shutdown" of Muslims entering the country, a wall on the United States' Southern border, and trade reform.

"I'm certain that if all those folks come in that want to come in, there will be some terrorists, you know, slipping in the group," Lindsay said. "Then, you know, jobs — there are so many good jobs that go out of the country. You call AT&T and you get somebody in India ... I don't know how many illegal Mexicans we got here. If the Mexicans weren't here, some of them, you know, the labor force would be depleted if they weren't here, and most of the guys are pretty good, but then there's a lot of crooks come over here."

It’s hard to talk to Roland about the issues facing Mississippi, and what his candidate will do to help alleviate them, without the conversation diverting to race.

Race comes into play

Mississippi has the highest rate of poverty in the nation, for example.

“The problem is the blacks,” Roland said.

Roland said he doesn’t think Trump, whom opponents accuse of bigoted behavior, is a racist. And he doesn’t think he’s one himself, either.

And while Trump “might be a jerk on one or two things,” Roland said, at least he’s not a crook like his opponent, Clinton.

“If Trump were crooked or anything, I wouldn’t vote for him,” Roland said.

Corruption is a huge factor of the 2016 election as many Trump supporters, including Lindsay, believe Clinton has broken the law.

"Nobody should ever be allowed to run for president that should be in jail," Lindsay said.

For Roland, it's personal. He ran for Jackson mayor on the Republican ticket in 1993, when he was working as a gas station attendant and again in 1997, when he worked as a driver for Mississippi Seafood Exchange. Jackson elected its first African-American mayor the second time and last time Roland ran. But Roland claims he uncovered fraud during those elections that tilted favor toward the Democrats.

"I caught them with their pants down," Roland said, adding that he did not have the resources to formally challenge the results.

Roland has lived in south Jackson all his life, whereas many folks who share his opinions and skin color have dipped to suburbs like Rankin and Madison counties over the last three decades. Had it been economically feasible for Roland, who never finished his college education, he would have left long ago, he said.

As far as other Trump supporters, "I think a lot of them would back me and what I said," Roland said.

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