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Robert McCarthy: Trump’s Western New York base isn’t flinching

Sometimes it’s not easy to lead the cheers for Donald Trump.

A year ago, local acolytes like Nick Langworthy and Michael Caputo were celebrating his election as president. Trump had just dispatched Hillary Clinton, potential Cabinet secretaries were parading up Fifth Avenue for Trump Tower interviews, and everything was hunky-dory.

But lately it gets complicated for Trump fans like Langworthy, the Erie County GOP chairman, and Caputo, a former Trump campaign staffer. Phrases like “obstruction of justice” and “impeachment” now float through the nightly cable news programs. Questions surround the president’s slurred speech a few days ago, while some wonder about his mental state. And polls show Trump dwelling in a cellar of 33 percent approval.

So how do Trumpsters like Langworthy and Caputo handle all those “What do think of your boy now?” questions?

For this pair – no problem. Trump is a most unusual kind of president, they say, so all the detractors should just chill out.

“This is not your grandfather’s politics,” Langworthy said a few days ago.

The chairman remains unfazed over the chatter on CNN or MSNBC, or even Fox.

“The election of 2016 was very unprecedented, and the way politics is covered is very unprecedented,” Langworthy says. “It’s a 24-hour news cycle, and now a winner or loser is declared every day.

“And you have a press that appears to be just as adversarial as the Democratic opposition,” he added. “No president has faced the hostility that Donald Trump has faced after less than a year in the White House – including from some Republicans.”

Langworthy emerged as an early supporter of his fellow New Yorker, and was even among those imploring him to run for governor four years ago. When Washington unveils its final tax overhaul, he says, things will get better.

He “doesn’t think much” about criticism from world leaders like Prime Minister Theresa May, and despite all inside the Beltway buzz, doesn’t hear that either. Ditto for the special Senate election in Alabama, where Trump supports a Republican candidate named in press reports as a pedophile.

That election is of no real concern in New York State, Langworthy says.

“I find far more people, random citizens at the grocery store or the mall, who give me a thumbs up,” he said.

Caputo’s defense of Trump gains a widespread audience on WBEN talk radio and increasing CNN appearances. While Langworthy gains all those thumbs up, Caputo gets death threats. Now he keeps a gun within reach at all times.

“I have had to reconsider how I live,” he said, wondering if he may have to move from East Aurora. “But the last thing I will do is walk away from Donald Trump.

“Even though some of this is self-inflicted, none of us who support Donald Trump thought this would be easy,” he added. “He’s a disrupter, and disrupters are not welcome in Washington.”

Trump may stand at a mere 33 percent approval in the polls, but much of his activity and policy has been directed at the “base.” That core group of Trump supporters, along wth those who never liked Clinton, put him in the White House.

Include Langworthy and Caputo in that base. They are not flinching – even as the commotion around them only intensifies.

The Politics Column sadly notes the death of Maurice “Mickey” Carroll, the noted New York City reporter and later head of the Quinnipiac University poll, who died Wednesday at 86. A “newspaperman” in the true sense of the word, he was among those reporters witnessing the 1963 shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of Dallas Police Headquarters.

A quarter-century ago, Carroll showed the rookie political reporter the ways of New York politics. That never gets forgotten.
Carroll was revered within the close brotherhood/sisterhood of the New York press corps. From this perspective, that’s a fine compliment.

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