State of the Union: Voters reflect on economy, Trump rhetoric and national security

Voters talk Trump, economy
Voters talk Trump, economy 06:30

Last Updated Jan 30, 2018 3:15 PM EST

Ahead of President Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday night, some voters are calling the state of our union "superb," "bold and beautiful," and "so-so." "CBS This Morning" co-host John Dickerson spoke with five voters in the Orlando area of Florida, a key battleground state. They range in age from 21 to 70 years old. Three voted for Mr. Trump in the 2016 election, and two voted for Hillary Clinton.

Our conversation touched on a range of issues, including the economy, immigration and Mr. Trump's rhetoric. We also spoke about how political and racial divisions are impacting the country.

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CBS News

Full transcript: Part I

State of the Union

JOHN DICKERSON: Angela, with a word or a phrase, the state of the union is…

ANGELA MEEHAN: Excellent when it comes to financial, the economy. … Our jobs are improving and everything, we need to work a little on the social problems that we're having.

DICKERSON: Daniel, in a word or a phrase, the state of the union is…

DANIEL HANNA: Superb.

MARK SOLOMON: Bold and beautiful.

DEVI MODY: So-so. … Sure the economy is getting better, it seems. But the economy is not the only thing that we have to look at when we're describing the country as a whole. Racial tensions are increasing among white and blacks. Healthcare is a crisis in this country. We've got the opioid crisis. I don't think ultimately, as a whole, the country is doing any better than it was.

Trump appealing to voters

DICKERSON: President Trump appealed in his rallies to-- to kind of regular America, not the fat cats. Do you think that's played out in his policies, let's say, for example, with the tax cut?

HANNA: Absolutely.

DICKERSON: All of you agree with that?

MEEHAN: I agree.

LARRY ANDERSON: I think it is. Currently, that's the way it's looking. And that's the way it's gonna be for a couple of years. But one thing you gotta remember is that these tax cuts, in 10 years, for the average person, go away—

MEEHAN: Go away.

ANDERSON: And for businesses, they stay. So that, you know-- we're gonna have to wait and see.

The economy

DICKERSON: Daniel, what could the president do to take advantage of his opportunity at the State of Union?

HANNA: What I think he could do is really dig into the fact that the economy is doing so well and how many jobs he's bringing back. … I think he can capitalize on the fact that he's putting more money in American people's pockets, then he'll win more people over.

DICKERSON: Whether the president's contributing or not, is talking about the economy enough in a country where all of you have identified some parts of the American fabric that are in danger?

HANNA: I'm not sure, but I do think, over time, people will see the light… as soon as they see a bigger paycheck, it'll start to make them, you know, rethink things. And I think that's good.

MODY: But I don't think money necessarily makes happiness. Like, sure, somebody's gonna end up with more money in their paycheck every month. But at the same time, when you face such systemic oppression, you know, in especially impoverished communities, I don't think the money is going to offset that, you know?

Trump and race relations

DICKERSON: What could the president do, as a Trump voter, to improve it with in terms of race relations? What would you like to see him do?

HANNA: He just needs to be unifying. And his language is a little bit divisive. You know, just remind us that we're all Americans. You know, we all share common values. We all wanna see each other succeed. Feed off that.

SOLOMON: I'm working off just one individual. My wife is black. … She has no problems with him. … There are a lot of black Americans that are in favor of Donald Trump because they see that when the boat raises, they'll be raised along with it.

Trump's rhetoric

MEEHAN: The thing I notice about him, he's unfiltered, and he's real, you know? That's what I like. And I would like to see him work on toning it down.

DICKERSON: What exactly should he tone down?

MEEHAN: Just some of the verbiage that he uses in his Twitter account, you know, sometimes, it is cringeworthy. He should be a little bit more presidential acting.

DICKERSON: Daniel, when the president once said, "With the exception of the late, great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that has ever held the office." Do you think that's true?

HANNA: You know, I don't think that's true now. In the past, I think he was playing into the crowd when he said that. But I'd like to see him become more presidential. It's actually one of my biggest qualms with him is that, you know, at times, he comes across as childish and petty.

Hope and unity

DICKERSON: Larry, what gives you hope in America?

ANDERSON: Well, I hope that we can… come together and not tear the country apart. … What's important is we're all Americans. And we ... really do need to make America great. But we're never gonna do it as long as we're-- we've got leadership who constantly tear down the other side or they degrade some other people… I just hope that some day we can become one. But I don't know if that's possible. But I hope it is.

DICKERSON: Is the president behaving in the way you just described?

ANDERSON: No, he's not. He's not acting that way. And the sad part about it is I think Donald Trump has a excellent opportunity right here. If he would... get his rhetoric under control and start thinking about everybody else instead of himself, I think that he can make a big difference.

DICKERSON: Mark, if you were to finish this sentence with a word or a phrase: America needs to be more…

SOLOMON: [Sigh] Accepting. Just accepting. I accept Devi for-- even though she's a rabid-- I don't know, rabid, but— liberal. [Laugh] Yeah. I'm fine with that because she's entitled to th-- opinion and that's great. … I'd say these two have given me hope. Young people… who look at the world and they want to change it for the better. That gives me hope.

Florida voters talk immigration 04:39

Part II: DACA and immigration

DICKERSON: Devi, you voted for Hillary Clinton. You're not a fan of Donald Trump… Do you expect him, in this next year, to be able to do something to address some of the issues you have with his presidency?

MODY: Well, I think the most forefront issue right now is DACA in terms of immigration. He's put a clock on Congress to figure out, you know, a resolution for DACA recipients… And at this point, Congress isn't coming up with anything.

MEEHAN: My family, my husband is an immigrant. My parents and my siblings are immigrants. They came from Canada and England, respectively. If you wanna come to the United States, I'm all for it. I'm all for bringing people in, because we are a nation of immigrants. But I want people to come here legally. Apply for the resident alien green card or, you know, go through the path to citizenship.

MODY: But the immigration process takes more than 10 years. And some people don't have the luxury of that time. Some people are fleeing their countries due to civil war conflict in their countries.

HANNA: My family's from the Middle East. You know, we vote primarily Republican – small business owners… I agree that, you know, the laws are unfair, and it takes way too long to apply to be a citizen in this country. But I don't think saying the laws are unfair are a good enough excuse to justify illegal immigration. Because that supersedes the people who are on the wait list and who are trying to come to this country and do it the right way.

DICKERSON: Devi, what do you think is on the president's mind, in terms of driving his presidency?

MODY: Well, right now, I do think he's very focused on the border wall, as he has been since, you know, he announced his candidacy. Personally, I think that's a huge mistake. It's gonna be a waste of tax payer dollars.

DICKERSON: Angela, you're a Trump supporter. Do you care about the border wall? And how much, if so?

MEEHAN: I want the wall. And I think Mexico can pay for it. … When you say, "Pay for it," it doesn't really have to be monetarily. There could be something of value that could be utilized from out of Mexico. So it could be a win-win for both of our countries.

National security

DICKERSON: Daniel, do you feel safer with Donald Trump as president?

HANNA: Absolutely.

DICKERSON: What's your feeling about North Korea, Angela?

MEEHAN: I think North Korea is-- is-- crazy. The man is crazy. … But he pulls any kind of stunt, he's gonna get flattened.

DICKERSON: What does that mean, get flattened?

MEEHAN: We will retaliate. … I'd rather be diplomatic.

HANNA: I think North Korea is actually a good litmus test for how well Trump is doing because, you know, he's-- it's weird, but on the same issues, he's at polar opposite ends because on one hand, he's insulting, you know, the North Korean leader on Twitter.

MEEHAN: Yeah.

HANNA: On the other hand, you have the South Korean president who's coming out and saying, you know, "We give our gratitude and we're thankful for Donald Trump for bringing North Korea back to the talking table."

SOLOMON: Trump is crazy like a fox, you could put it –

HANNA: Yeah, very.

SOLOMON: And the other-- he scares people who aren't Americans and don't understand the nuances of language. All they see is a lunatic, crazy man who they can't figure out. And so that keeps them on their heels, I believe.

DICKERSON: Devi, what's your feeling about the-- national security under the Trump presidency?

MODY: Angela mentioned diplomacy. I don't think that President Trump is capable of diplomacy. You know, he's insulting world leaders on Twitter without a second thought.

SOLOMON: Diplomacy's overblown. And look it, we've had diplomatic-- endeavors to solve the Mideast crisis for 30 years now. Longer than that. And nothing is accomplished. Just diplomacy is a bunch of mealy-mouth people, in my opinion.

Florida voters on Congress, health care 05:24