Meeting with the president's supporters at his Erie rally: "If you don't like Trump, then you probably won't like me"

Hearing from voters at a Trump rally
Hearing from voters at a Trump rally 05:25

In "CBS This Morning's" election series, "At America's Crossroads," we're finding evidence of voter enthusiasm in Erie, Pennsylvania.

You can only vote once in America. But people who plan to cast their ballot for President Trump may vote with a bit more passion.

Pollsters found two-thirds of President Trump's supporters say they "strongly" back their candidate, compared to just 46% of Joe Biden's supporters.

To learn what's behind those feelings, Tony Dokoupil talked to members of the crowd at Mr. Trump's rally Tuesday night in Erie.

"Trump's a real patriot. And so am I," one man at the rally said. "So if you don't like patriotism, you won't like me."

"He's a man that wants to do it all for America the best he can," a woman there said.

"He's done a lot for the military, for international affairs," another said. "All the things that they say he's not good at he seems to be pretty darn good at."

The president calls them a "silent majority," although outside his rally in Erie, they weren't so silent. And neither are their outfits.

Among the vendors selling Trump gear, one particular phrase, not affiliated with the campaign, caught Dokoupil's attention: "If you don't like Trump, then you probably won't like me, and I'm OK with that."

It's emblazoned across mugs, phone covers, face masks and of course t-shirts.

"Do you agree?" Dokoupil asked people at the rally.

"Hell yeah," one said.

"You're not gonna like me if you don't like Trump," one woman responded. "Because everything that he is, I am."

"I like Trump, and I know people hate me for it," a man responded. "Absolute hatred."

"I'm totally okay with that," another woman said in response to the phrase. "I'm a deplorable."

But to really understand the president's appeal, at least to his staunchest supporters, you have to remember the promise of his victory speech in 2016.

"The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer," Mr. Trump said then.

If you didn't know who the president was talking about, his supporters sure did.

"He's talking about all of us," a woman at the rally said. "Everybody that's not an elite. If you look around it's all regular people. We were never represented with the Republicans or the Democrats."

"I think he was talking about a lot of the needs of, you know, the average person," one man said. "What they would call the flyover country."

For them, it's about jobs —

"In 2008 and 2012, I was living paycheck to paycheck,"  one said. "Right now, I've got money in the bank."

— But also respect.

"We're completely irrelevant to the Democratic party except for voting time," another man said. "Otherwise, they could care less about any of us."  

And above all, recognition.

"I would rather let him tell me what he thinks, but do the job, than getting good words from politicians and when they're in power they will turn around and backstab everybody," a woman at the rally said.

"If you feel forgotten in 2016, how do you feel now?" Dokoupil asked another Trump supporter at the rally.

"I feel great, and I hope that he gets another four years," he said.

"I felt forgotten in 2008," another said.

"2008… 2012 you felt forgotten?" Dokoupil asked.

"Yeah," the man responded.

"How do you feel now?" Dokoupil asked.

"Great," he said.

And as we've learned traveling through some of the battleground states, Mr. Trump's message is still landing with a more varied crowd than you might expect. A trucker Dokoupil spoke with said he voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and was going to vote for him again in 2020 because of the economy.

Darren Byrd was one of three Black Trump supporters Dokoupil met in Erie. Byrd said he was a first-time voter and was casting his ballot for Mr. Trump.

"Hey, I got one life," Byrd said. "I wanna do something. And the dude's gonna make a difference, man."

Another Black Trump supporter said he believes there are more, as he called them, "shy" Trump supporters, among the African American community.

CBS polling shows only about one in every 10 Black Americans is a likely Trump voter.


CBS This Morning dedicates a special hour at 8 a.m. to the "At America's Crossroads" series co-hosted from Pennsylvania by Tony Dokoupil.