Standing in line among thousands hoping to see Donald Trump at the Janesville Conference Center was a last-minute decision for accountant William Collett.The presidential candidate he'll vote for in the Wisconsin primary April 5th also will be a late decision.
“Well, as of this morning I'll be voting for Trump.”
One of the biggest reasons is Trump’s views on curbing foreign trade agreements.
“Look at the NAFTA program that was voted in through politicians, and they darn well knew that jobs were going to jump the borders.”
This is a primary concern for many in Janesville,home of a massive General Motors assembly plant which has been idle for almost a decade.The closure of the plant put thousands of the area out of well-paying jobsand change the way of life for many who live in this working-class town,which reflects a large part of the Republican electorate.
“Many of them were once Democrats. Their fathers worked on the line in industrial America.They had a nice house in the suburbs. They made the kind of money that the upper working class used to make in the '50s and '60s. They look back on that life and they wonder where it went.”
John Sharpless is a history professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.He is also a former Republican candidate for Congress who narrowly lost his election in 2000. He says Republican Party leadership has misjudged working-class voters for several election cycles.
“I think they are a hurting group, and they’re an angry group,and they feel they were rejected by the Democrats, and then they felt they were rejected by the Republicans,and Trump has tapped into that anger.”
But 21-year-old Charlie Luiting says he’s most impressed by Trump’s credentials.
“He’s kind of the epitome of an American businessman. I really like that. He is self-established.”
But there’s another name on Luiting’s radar:speaker of the House and Janesville hometown’s congressman, Paul Ryan,who went to school with Luiting’s mother.
“I personally, if Paul was in the race, I would vote for Paul just because I personally connect with him and I trust him.He’s honest，straightforward. He doesn’t lie.”
“If he somehow magically became the candidate, I think he’d be a very serious rival for Hillary Clinton.”
But Paul Ryan has said he’s not interested in being a candidate,and believes the nominee should be someone currently in the race, the race Donald Trump is winning.