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After The Convention, We Check In With Voters


Many Americans are struggling to get behind either party's nominee for president. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have among the highest negative favorability ratings in history. So we reached out to a few of the voters who've been wrestling with their choices this year. Travis Rechenbach is an Uber driver, and he joins us on the line from Alexandria, Va. Alicia Jessop is a lawyer in Miami, Fla. And Gina Worthen is a stay-at-home mom and the vice chair of the Cache County Republican Party in Logan, Utah. She's talking with us via Skype. Thanks to all of you for joining us.

TRAVIS RECHENBACH: Thanks for having me.



HU: Well, let's start by asking all of you, how do you usually vote and on what issues? Travis, let's start with you.

RECHENBACH: Yeah, I've been a Republican my whole life. I would say I'm more fiscally conservative and socially liberal.

HU: Alicia, what about you?

JESSOP: Sure. So I guess I'm the opposite of Travis. I'm a lifelong Democrat who was preparing to begin leaning right.

HU: And Gina?

WORTHEN: I tend to be more like Travis. I'm a lifelong Republican. I'm a social and fiscal conservative.

HU: And so, as you all were watching the primaries this year, who did you support, sort of, to begin with? Gina, do you want to start?

WORTHEN: Sure. I supported Scott Walker. I was a Walker and Cruz fan. And then I went, you know, wholeheartedly with Cruz once Walker dropped out.

HU: Alicia?

JESSOP: I was really torn. After I attended law school, I began leaning closer to the right and becoming more moderate. And so, this year, the candidate that I was preparing to vote for was John Kasich.

HU: And Travis?

RECHENBACH: I was behind Marco Rubio mostly. And I was intrigued by Donald Trump, but I really wanted to see what Marco Rubio had to say.

HU: Going into these conventions, how did you feel about either the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, or the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton?

WORTHEN: This is Gina. I'm really concerned about Donald Trump. I'm concerned because of his contradictions in position all the time. I don't know where he stands, and the way that he's treated other people - the way that he treated the Republican candidates, his name calling, his name calling of Democrats - to me, it smacks of a lack of empathy and also a lack of a moral compass. And you get those, you combine them with the power of the presidency of the United States, and to me that leans toward a tyrant, a dictator. I think those are a dangerous combination of things.

JESSOP: This is Alicia. I really want to echo what Gina just said. I was honestly an undecided voter heading into the primaries. And after all of those candidates were on stage fighting for the primary, that this is the candidate that the Republican Party set forth, it really derailed someone like me, who is a millennial, who is a first-generation college student, from possibly ever registering as a Republican.

HU: And Travis?

RECHENBACH: Well, you know, I kind of echo what everybody has said so far. I just - you know, I think what has happened and what is resonating with a lot of Republicans, including myself, is there's just a lot going on, you know, in the world in terms of ISIS and the Black Lives Matter and, you know, and the police shootings and all this kind of stuff.

But as far as what Donald Trump has said, you know, the one thing that I do like that he kind of stands for is he's, you know, kind of shoots from the hip a little bit. And I think tells it like it is, to be honest with you. And it's kind of hard to see how he treated a lot of the other Republicans in the primary, and I don't get behind the way he talks to people. But at the same time, I do like the way he speaks about what's happening in the United States and the world. And I really think that we need a lot of change, and I have to have faith in my Republican Party that they know what's best. And that's kind of where I am right now.

HU: So a question for all of you, if the election were held tomorrow, who do you think you would vote for?

JESSOP: This is Alicia. I'll go first. There's no doubt in my mind, after watching both parties' conventions and hearing both candidates speak, of who I'm going to vote for. I think one thing that Americans have to take into consideration when casting a vote for the president is Article II of the United States Constitution, which sets forth the responsibilities of the president. And in this election, I think two of those responsibilities are hugely critical. One is national security, and one is appointing Supreme Court justices. And in appointing Supreme Court justices, you want to find a presidential candidate who values the Constitution.

I'm not convinced that Donald Trump knows how the Constitution operates. You have a man who references banning Muslims from this country. To my knowledge, that might be a violation of the First Amendment. So I think there's some pretty grave consequences in this election as it relates to the Constitution and the upholding of the document that's the basis for the great liberties that we enjoy today. And so it's for that reason that I'm voting for Hillary Clinton in November.

HU: What about the lifelong Republicans here? Travis, Gina?

RECHENBACH: You know, I really wanted to keep an open mind. I watched both the Republican National Convention and the Democratic National Convention. I thought Michelle Obama and Barack Obama had wonderful speeches. I thought Bill Clinton had a wonderful speech. I even thought Hillary Clinton had a wonderful speech. It's just very difficult for me to trust Hillary Clinton.

And, you know, and I'll be honest I really hope that Donald Trump, if he is the president of the United States, will appoint people in his cabinet who can take on a lot of the responsibilities that, you know, honestly I just don't want him to deal with. And I really want Donald Trump to kind of concentrate on our economy because I do think he can build jobs. I do think he can bring infrastructure back to the United States. I just think that, in my heart of hearts, I just have to trust the Republican Party and vote for Donald Trump.

WORTHEN: This is Gina, and I really appreciate what Alicia said about the Constitution. That's a big deal to me and to many Utah Republicans like myself. Unfortunately, I disagree that Hillary knows it better, respectfully. I think that she doesn't really follow the Constitution or law. I think she thinks she's above the law, and I disagree with her on a lot of her positions. So I would never vote for Hillary Clinton.

The struggle, of course, that I have is being a local leader of the Republican Party. I'm expected to support the nominee. But I also have to consider that if I vote for Trump, am I validating that it's OK for our party to pick people who I feel, like I said, are lacking in empathy and who are lacking a moral compass? Although, I will say my view is that Hillary's lack of a moral compass is even worse. And so I'm looking at the possibility of third party. I'm also considering just leaving that part of my ballot blank.

HU: Gina Worthen, Alicia Jessop and Travis Rechenbach - thanks for being with us.

WORTHEN: Thanks very much.

JESSOP: Thank you.

RECHENBACH: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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