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Ohio Voters Are Divided Over Whom To Blame For Government Shutdown


The country is in a state of limbo. It is Day 34 of the partial government shutdown, and there are reports the White House is preparing for the possibility that the shutdown could last another two months or longer. Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees are going to miss yet another paycheck tomorrow. We're going to get two views of the shutdown and the impact it's having. First we head out of Washington, D.C., to the state of Ohio, which is where NPR's Don Gonyea has been talking to folks about the shutdown standoff. Hey, Don.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: Where are you exactly in Ohio, and what are you hearing?

GONYEA: I am in Chillicothe, Ohio. Columbus is about an hour to the north. This is the part of the state where the map turns red. Maybe not deep, deep, deep red, but red. Though, in Chillicothe, there are precincts that vote Democratic, as well. But people are absolutely watching the shutdown. And the first thing you notice when you ask about it is that the partisan divide holds. You know, we've seen President Trump's poll numbers drop since the shutdown began in December, and Democrats I talked to here say this is all on Trump. His demand for funding the wall leaves no room to negotiate. You talk to Republicans, and it gets a little more interesting. They're still with Trump, but it's more complicated. And some will say Democrats have to come to the table, but they also wonder what the White House plan is here.

MARTIN: I mean, as you allude to, Trump did very well in Ohio. He carried the state easily and was really popular exactly where you are. So it would make sense, I suppose, that supporters are standing by him. Is that across the board?

GONYEA: They're standing by him, when you talk to Republicans. But let me introduce you to some people here. Let's start with Beverly Chapman (ph), a high school English teacher. I talked to her at a shopping mall, about a mile from downtown Chillicothe. She is in that category of hardcore Trump supporter, as strong as ever.

BEVERLY CHAPMAN: I think he's got us on the right track and he's helping out, and...

GONYEA: And she says it's on the Democrats to make the next step toward reaching a deal that could then reopen the full U.S. government.

CHAPMAN: They need to get back to the table and start negotiating. You know, I think the Democrats need to work with him.

GONYEA: So that's the solid-as-a-rock Trump base speaking there. But let me give you a different reaction to what's going on from a Trump voter in Chillicothe. Fran Burdette (ph) works in a law office. She actually says she was a reluctant Trump vote. She just couldn't pull the lever for Hillary Clinton. She told me that she agrees the U.S. needs a wall to keep people from crossing the border illegally, but she does not think it is the thing to shut the government down over.

FRAN BURDETTE: But I don't think this is the right way to do it. I mean, you've got to worry about the people first.

GONYEA: And here's what she means by that.

BURDETTE: Thing that worries me the most is the people that are not getting paid. And these people are living from paycheck to paycheck. You know, especially, like, the Coast Guard and different places. People on food stamps. All that kind of stuff. You know, they need help.

GONYEA: One more thing about Burdette. She says she still supports Trump. But when I asked her if she's voting for him in 2020, she says it's too early to talk about that.

MARTIN: So there's support for the wall, but not always for the president using the wall as a non-negotiable demand in the shutdown.

GONYEA: Right. And you hear some Trump supporters say they wish there could be normal negotiations absent the shutdown, especially with Democrats now controlling the House. Listen to this exchange I had with county worker Greg Rouse (ph).

They could've done this when they had the House and Senate.

GREG ROUSE: I agree.

GONYEA: And now he's trying to do it with the Democrats in control of the House.

ROUSE: Yeah. I don't understand what - but (laughter) I don't think they had a very strong Republican House to start with. I don't think Paul Ryan was very good. So yeah, I don't know. That is kind of puzzling.

GONYEA: So they're sticking with Trump.


GONYEA: But...

MARTIN: But you can hear the frustration there. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea.

GONYEA: Pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.