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Michigan Voters React To Trump's Attack On Rep. Rashida Tlaib

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

What do some American voters say of the American member of Congress who represents them? Rashida Tlaib of Detroit drew intense attention as 1 of 4 Democrats pushing to more directly confront the president. President Trump seized attention by saying the U.S.-born lawmakers should go back where she came from. Quinn Klinefelter of WDET spoke with some of her constituents.

QUINN KLINEFELTER, BYLINE: When President Trump tweeted that certain progressive Congresswomen hated America and should go back where they came from, this is the place where U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib was born. She'd likely returned to Detroit's main thoroughfare, Woodward Avenue. Walking towards his job at the local Veterans Affairs hospital, Desert Storm veteran Setoria Davis says the president's tweets don't represent the country he fought for.

SETORIA DAVIS: I think it shouldn't be said like that, especially coming from the president. And the people that make America is all walks of life.

KLINEFELTER: Further along Woodward Avenue, Detroiter Janice Avery takes a harder line and says Congress should do more than simply censure the president.

JANICE AVERY: I think they should get him out of office.

KLINEFELTER: Trump has never been particularly popular here. He barely won Michigan in 2016 and lost in heavily Democratic Detroit. And he's certainly never been popular with Congresswoman Tlaib, who's repeatedly called for him to be impeached. On the campus of Tlaib's alma matter, Wayne State University, Fatima Alin is a Muslim like Tlaib. She says their faith makes them targets for Trump, who uses it to try to energize his base.

FATIMA ALIN: I've never really heard him say anything that doesn't have divisive implications. Like anytime he says something, he always has, like, an other to it. Like, even on the Fourth of July, when he, like, said something, he added like an implied other, like, oh, you're patriotic and this person is not.

KLINEFELTER: Inside a nearby Middle Eastern restaurant, manager Lisa Deladurantay says she applauded when Tlaib, a Palestinian American, was elected to Congress. And she finds Trump's recent tweets about her frightening.

LISA DELADURANTAY: I think she's great. I think all of the women that he said that to are great - I mean, just the things that they're doing, not just for women, but for women and minorities. I'm just praying for somebody different and somebody new in 2020. I think he's a scary president.

KLINEFELTER: The criticism over the president's tweets spread beyond Metro Detroit to other parts of Michigan. Most of the state's Republican congressional delegation distanced themselves from the comments, some calling them character assassinations that are beneath leaders, but most stopped short of calling them racist. Michigan Congressman Fred Upton, however, said he was appalled by the tweets and was one of only a handful of House Republicans who joined Democrats in voting to censure the president. For NPR News, I'm Quinn Klinefelter in Detroit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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