NATIONAL POLITICS

How Donald Trump is alienating some Republican voters — and winning over others

Kristy Stowell was blunt with the two Donald Trump volunteers who trudged across a deep blanket of snow to greet her in her frontyard: He seems like a "ticking time bomb," she told them.

"He can say some pretty nasty things," Stowell, a 37-year-old Republican, said as her dog hopped around the fresh powder and barked at the visitors.

After losing the Iowa caucuses last week, Trump said he would try to be more understated and statesmanlike in his run for the Republican presidential nomination.

But bursts of profanity still punctuate his public remarks, along with insults he can't resist. At a debate Saturday night, Trump badgered rival Jeb Bush with renewed gusto, at one point putting a finger to his lips and telling Bush to keep quiet.

"He's a total stiff, Jeb Bush," Trump snarled Monday at an Elks Lodge town hall in Salem, N.H.

He went on to mimic the former Florida governor in a baby's voice: "Donald Trump said this, Donald Trump said that … I'm not afraid of Donald Trump."

"He's like a spoiled child," Trump said. "Not smart."

At a Manchester rally a few hours later, he took a dig at Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, saying he was "sweating like a dog" at the debate.

Trump's belligerent style has not kept him from holding a steady lead in New Hampshire polls ahead of Tuesday's primary.

But to some voters, like Stowell, it's a turnoff. To call people "ugly and fat" is immature, she told the young Trump volunteers as they tried to persuade her to ditch her No. 1 choice, Rubio.

"I would like to see him be just a little more cautious," she said, even while allowing that she had "a little inner Donald Trump" herself.

Julie Kfoury, 47, heard Trump speak at a cloth-napkin business luncheon of the Manchester Rotary Club, where she found him uncharacteristically "reeled in."

One of her main misgivings about him is Trump's swearing at rallies.

"I don't think that's OK," she said, recalling that a friend took children to a vulgarity-tinged Trump event in Portsmouth.

At a town hall in Exeter, Trump's language was too profane to broadcast on television as he alleged that no politician would solve the problem of veterans dying while awaiting medical care. "I was going to say they're full of [expletive], but I won't say that," Trump said to laughter.

He went on to criticize foreign women having "anchor babies" in the United States, using a term many find offensive. "That's where somebody comes over, walks across a line, has a baby, now we take care of the baby for the next 85 years, OK?"

Trump opponent Ted Cruz said last week that the New York businessman was too volatile to be commander in chief.

"I don't know anyone who would be comfortable with someone who behaves this way having his finger on the button," the Texas senator said. "I mean, we're liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were president, would have nuked Denmark."

Many supporters say they admire Trump's willingness to say out loud what most people feel obligated to keep to themselves.

He ridiculed Cruz on Monday for "trying to be politically correct" in responding to a question about waterboarding in the last GOP debate. "Ted was very queasy on whether or not he liked it," the billionaire told the audience in Salem.

As Trump volunteers James Radcliffe and Dave Chiokadze, both 22, knocked on doors in a prosperous neighborhood here last week, they met resistance to the former reality TV star's antics.

Stowell told them that "some of the things that come out of his mouth are a little out there."

Radcliffe made a case for Trump's bluntness, contrasting him with "smooth talkers" in politics — to no avail. Stowell stuck with Rubio.

The volunteers had better luck down the street at the front door of pharmaceutical manager Tony Ramy, 49, a Trump supporter.

"Look, I get how he operates, because I've got plenty of bosses like that," Ramy said. "And I'm a direct and candid guy myself. There's no kind of gray area in certain things."

michael.finnegan@latimes.com

Twitter: @finneganLAT

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on February 09, 2016, in the News section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Trump's style splits GOP voters - His no-holds-barred rhetoric draws critics - but fans love it." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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