Trump praises himself for not being a 'typical politician.' That line worked in 2016, but former supporters now see it as 'lack of experience.'

  • President Donald Trump has maintained his campaign message that his appeal to his base is that he isn't a lifelong politician.
  • At last week's debate, he criticized Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for being a "typical politician."
  • But former supporters of Trump who now support Biden told Business Insider the past four years have shown Trump's "lack of experience" and his "unpresidential" nature.
  • Ultimately, these former Trump supporters said they want a president who shows they care about Americans, particularly in wake of a global health crisis and social unrest.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Four years ago, Amy Hopkins, a lifelong Republican, voted for Donald Trump "because he wasn't necessarily a politician at the time." 

Hopkins, 45, told Business Insider she thought if Trump could "run multiple businesses then I felt that possibly we would see a change in how some things are run within the country."  

During his first presidential campaign, Trump distinguished himself from his opponents by touting himself as a Washington, D.C. outsider, arguing he was not "controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests."

"I'm not a politician, thank goodness," Trump said in 2015, according to the Washington Post, adding that politicians did not walk the talk. 

This pitch was a major selling point for his supporters. 

"He's going to tell the people what he's going to do, and he's going to do it. Finally, we get someone that's not a politician," one supporter told the BBC in 2016.

"I'm not a typical politician," Trump said last week as he mocked Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden for being a "typical politician" after he spoke directly to American families during the final presidential debate.

"That's why I got elected," Trump said. 

But now former Trump supporters like Hopkins said they no longer consider whether or not someone is a "typical politician" — or even a businessperson — an important factor as to who should be president.

"I don't go based on what the stock market is doing daily, because that's not a realistic way for me to live my life," she said. "I really would prefer to have somebody in office that cares about the American people and their voices and how we feel, it doesn't feel that way with [Trump]."

Erin Rosiello of Ohio told Insider she voted for Trump in 2016 because she was convinced the US needed "somebody with a good business sense" over a "lifelong politician," but "within weeks I was so sorry for my decision and have been kicking myself ever since."

Rosiello, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer, said in August she feared "every day that he's going to pull the plug on ACA, which will take away preexisting coverage — which would cost me my life."

For David Weissman, it wasn't just Trump appearing to be a successful businessman that prompted him to vote for the billionaire in 2016, but also how an outsider Trump made the now 40-year-old Florida resident feel seen and included as a conservative. 

"I thought that he was going to tell it how it is, trying to get things done," Weissman told Business Insider. In 2016, he believed Trump would accomplish a lot while in office, wouldn't be afraid to say when somebody was doing wrong, and make America more conservative, which he supported at the time, he said.

 

But this year Weissman said he is now rallying behind Biden.

Since voting for Trump, Weissman said he's been disappointed to realize what made Trump an appealing candidate was a facade.

Weissman, a 13-year Army veteran said he was disappointed to learn about Trump deferring his military draft and his "business failures," such as his bankruptcies, lawsuits, and a recent review of Trump's tax records that showed many of his businesses were struggling financially.

"Those are not qualities of a successful businessman," Weissman said, adding that Trump's "lack of experience" in politics is the reason for chaos around the coronavirus pandemic and protests for racial justice.

"We need somebody that has experience who knows what to do, knows what to say," he said, and pointed to Biden's long background in politics as "experience" that qualifies him for office.

Trump has appeared "unpresidential" over the past four years, Hopkins said, referring to the president's tweets and controversial comments. But the pandemic a tipping point for her was when Trump seemed to brush off the gravity of the novel coronavirus, she said.

"He should have taken action a lot sooner," Hopkins said. As journalist Bob Woodward reported in his recent book, Trump was aware of the coronavirus early on but wanted to "play it down" because he didn't want to "create a panic."

Still, Hopkins said, her change of heart on Trump does not indicate that the best candidate for the job needs to be a politician.

"We need more people to care about how the American people are living," she said. 

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