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Ga. Voters Sift Through Points Made During Monday's Presidential Debate


And I'm Steve Inskeep in Atlanta, Ga., one of the divided states where we're hearing voters in this presidential debate season. We met four of them on the program yesterday. And now three of them have come to our studios at WABE here in Atlanta to talk about last night's debate. Suzanne Menarcine is here, a retired airline pilot and businesswoman. Welcome to the program. Good morning.

SUZANNE MENARCINE: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Thanks for coming by so early. Jon Jackson is here, a farmer from Milledgeville, Ga. Good morning, sir.

JON JACKSON: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: And also Tonya Hicks, an electrical contractor from the Atlanta area. Welcome to you.

TONYA HICKS: Thank you, Steve.

INSKEEP: Glad you guys are here. Sorry to say that one more voter, Jimmy Arno, who we met yesterday, unable to make it this morning. Jon Jackson, I want to start with you. You said yesterday on the program you support Donald Trump. You wanted a bull in a china shop.

JACKSON: (Laughter). Absolutely.

INSKEEP: Did you get that last night?

JACKSON: He exceeded my expectations 100 percent. He stood up. He did what he had to do. He was poised, and he was shooting from the hip when - when he needed to. And he was able to talk about his policies.

INSKEEP: Tonya Hicks, you told us on the program about your view of Hillary Clinton, that you had sympathy for the idea that she had to be a woman in a male-dominated field.


INSKEEP: How do you think she did last night?

HICKS: Oh, she did great. I loved her facial expression. I mean, she allowed him to talk. She really didn't interrupt him as much. She wanted him to say everything that he was saying.

INSKEEP: OK, Suzanne Menarcine, I want to ask you - you said, with a little hesitation in our interview, that - that you felt that Donald Trump was a hateful person. Did he show that last night, or did he persuade you that he perhaps is a little different?

MENARCINE: No, he did not show that he's any different. But, you know, I thought Hillary stayed on task. She stayed focused.

INSKEEP: Well, let's listen to an exchange that they actually had - Clinton and Trump - on the economy. Secretary Clinton said that Donald Trump favors tax cuts for the wealthy. Let's listen.


HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think top-down works in America. I think building the middle class, investing in the middle class, making college debt-free so more young people can get their education, helping people refinance their tax - their debt from college at a lower rate, those are the kinds of things that will really boost the economy. Broad-based, inclusive growth is what we need in America, not more advantages for people at the very top.

LESTER HOLT: Mr. Trump, we're talking...

DONALD TRUMP: Typical politician - all talk, no action, sounds good, doesn't work, never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what's going on.

INSKEEP: Tonya Hicks, you are a business owner, an electrical contractor. Did you hear anything in that discussion of the economy last night that related to you directly?

HICKS: Yes, like when he said our country is doing bad because of people like that. No, our country is doing bad because of people on Wall Street and people like him that only think about doing good business and not thinking about the people on the other end of that business.

INSKEEP: Jon Jackson, you're, in effect, a businessman. You're a farmer. Did you hear anything that related to you directly?

JACKSON: Actually, I'm a farmer, so it's kind of like throwing a free corn out for the hogs to come to slaughter - you know, free this, free that, free this, free that. Hey, come on here so we corral - so that we can we control your lives.

INSKEEP: When she spun out programs that she wanted to do to help the middle class, you just heard...

JACKSON: To help - and I look at those as giveaways, as free corn. You know, and like Trump said, you know, you can't have a lot of that. You know, we have to be able to take care of ourselves and to create institutions where the entrepreneurial spirit is able to thrive, not free this, free that. And it's just more to kind of get votes.

HICKS: So you don't think the bailout was free corn?

JACKSON: The bailout was something that Hillary supported.

HICKS: Yeah, no, but I'm saying don't you think that...

JACKSON: Absolutely...

HICKS: ...Trump and his friends, they all got free corn? So if they can get some free corn...

JACKSON: No, Trump...

HICKS: ...We can get some free corn, too.

JACKSON: Trump didn't get free corn.

INSKEEP: All right, let's move on. I know - I want corn after this. I want to go get some corn on the cob. I just want to mention that we're listening to a special feature on MORNING EDITION called Divided States.

And let's listen to just a little bit more of last night's debate. There was a discussion about the fitness and temperament to be commander-in-chief. And here's just a little bit of that. Secretary Clinton questioned whether Donald Trump could be entrusted with nuclear weapons.


CLINTON: So a man who can be provoked by a tweet should not have his fingers anywhere near the nuclear codes, as far as I think anyone with any sense about this should be concerned.

TRUMP: That line's getting a little bit old, I must say. Listen...

CLINTON: It's a good one, though - well describes the problem.

TRUMP: It's not an accurate one at all. It's not an accurate one. So I just want to - she gave a lot of things and just to respond. I agree with her on one thing. The single greatest problem the world has is nuclear armament, nuclear weapons, not global warming, like you think and your president thinks.

INSKEEP: Suzanne Menarcine, let me bring you back into this discussion. Questions have been raised because he does not have political experience, because of his attitude on stage, whether Donald Trump is ready for that responsibility to be commander-in-chief. I know that you're a Hillary Clinton supporter, but tell me, did you see anything last night that reassured you at all?

MENARCINE: I was not reassured by Trump at all. I was reassured by Hillary. I felt that she came across as presidential. She came across as calm and composed. And she answered the questions with substance. I think, again, Trump got into his routine of, I'm the greatest, I've got the greatest plan, I've got the best words, it's going to be tremendous. And that bothers me.

INSKEEP: Jon Jackson, as an Army Ranger, Army veteran, would you be comfortable saluting Commander-in-Chief Donald Trump?

JACKSON: Absolutely. He's presidential. You know, he walks into the room, and he - the man's respect, you know? Most people are frightened and intimidated by those type of things. But as an alpha male and living in an environment where we - you know, we shake hands, we look each other in the eye, that's what we want.

INSKEEP: Got a few seconds left. Let me go around this table here and ask each of you what concerns you still have about your candidate. Tonya Hicks, you're supporting Hillary Clinton. What, very briefly, is a concern you still have?

HICKS: I don't have a concern about Hillary. I feel like she handled herself well last night. It was almost like being in the schoolyard with a bully. I think she did well.

INSKEEP: Jon Jackson, concerns about Donald Trump? Granting you support him, any concerns?

JACKSON: No, he's doing excellent, just, you know, keeping the fire up. I don't want him - my concern is that he may, you know, slow down, and I just want him to keep it up, yes.

INSKEEP: Suzanne Menarcine, you get the last word.

MENARCINE: I get the last word. I'm no longer a reluctant Hillary supporter. I fully and enthusiastically support Hillary today. I was impressed by everything I saw. I still want to see more substance on the plan, but overall I'm very pleased.

INSKEEP: I'm wondering if we're learning one of the overall impressions of this debate is not necessarily that a lot of minds were changed, but people got a stronger impression of the person they already support or already oppose. And everybody here is nodding. Well, Tonya Hicks, thanks very much for coming by, really appreciate it. Jon Jackson, thanks to you. And Suzanne Menarcine, thanks to you. I'm really glad all of you joined us in the studios of WABE this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.