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In New York, Some Pro-Trump Conservatives Ready For Fresh Start With Biden

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Well, in today's program, we're going to hear from Americans in different parts of the country reacting to this change in U.S. leadership. And NPR's Brian Mann is in upstate New York, a deeply rural part of the state where former President Trump remains popular. And Brian has been talking with people in a little town called Westport. Hi, Brian.

BRIAN MANN, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: What have you been hearing as President Biden takes over today?

MANN: Well, as you can imagine, some of the people I talked to were pretty thrilled at the idea that things are changing in Washington. I met Thomas Fettigan (ph), who normally works as a stagehand in New York City. But when theaters there shut down because of the pandemic, he moved up here to kind of ride out the storm.

THOMAS FETTIGAN: Looks like it's going to be a good day, I think. Change of power - I'm hopeful, yeah. The scenes on TV have been terrible. And, you know, I'm hoping things get more normal.

MANN: And really, Ari, the pandemic was on a lot of people's minds today. More and more folks I talked to know someone who's gotten really sick or died or lost their job. And people tell me they hope Biden can start to heal the country.

SHAPIRO: And small-town America has largely stayed loyal to President Trump - so former President Trump. Did you hear a sense of loss today?

MANN: I did. I spoke with some Trump supporters who wouldn't go on tape, but they were defiant and...

SHAPIRO: Brian Mann, are you there? Sounds like we might have lost you. Let's see if we can reconnect with Brian Mann. And we are speaking to him from Westport in upstate New York in a small town where it seems like maybe the wireless connection is not as good as we might have hoped. And so we are going to try to get back to him shortly. Stay with us.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

I'll just jump in Ari and say it was fascinating hearing some of those voices of Americans. We're hearing those, and we'll hear them throughout the night from around the country as we check in and get a sense of how Americans are watching events unfold today. And, of course, we'll also be checking with some of our foreign correspondents. I know I was speaking with Frank Langfitt in London earlier, where he was telling me they are glued to it. They're as glued to all of this as Americans are.

SHAPIRO: Absolutely. And I was speaking with our colleague Lauren Frayer in Mumbai, India, where people are celebrating Kamala Harris as vice president of South Asian descent, a first there. It looks like we have Brian Mann on the line. Brian, you were telling us about some of the people you heard from today there in rural New York. Go ahead.

MANN: You're back to me, Ari?

SHAPIRO: We - yep.

MANN: I was just saying - sorry about that. I was saying that Philip Hutchins (ph) is 83 years old. He says he is ready for this change.

PHILIP HUTCHINS: Probably take some hits from some of my friends here, but this is the way I feel about it. I'm glad that President Trump is on his way out, and I wish the newcoming guy all the best. And I'm a Republican.

MANN: And I heard something really similar, Ari, from Josh Bennett (ph). He's the pastor of a small church in this area. He said he liked a lot of Trump's conservative policies, but just ran out of patience with Trump himself, with, you know, the anger and the name-calling and the tweets.

JOSH BENNETT: I usually vote conservative, but his character didn't really line up with what I envision for our president. I'm hopeful for the future, something different, a fresh start, you know?

MANN: But it is important to say, many conservatives here are still very strongly in Trump's camp. They're heartbroken to see him go. The local congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, was one of the Republicans who embraced and amplified Trump's false claims that this election was rigged.

SHAPIRO: Just briefly, Brian, Joe Biden has made a lot of promises. And now that he's president, are people confident that he can implement the kind of change he's talked about? There's a lot of disillusionment with government right now.

MANN: Yeah, I did hear a lot of people saying that they really do hope he can start to move the needle, Ari. But mostly what I heard was relief, fatigue, happiness that there's going to be a change, so Joe Biden being welcomed because he's not Donald Trump.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Brian Mann in upstate New York. He was speaking with people on this Inauguration Day. Thanks for bringing us those voices, Brian.

MANN: Thank you, Ari.

(SOUNDBITE OF WILLIAM ORBIT'S "PAVANE POUR UNE INFANTE DEFUNTE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


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