For our series “Three Meals,” we take you to Texas to see what’s on voters’ minds. Major Garrett traveled across the Lone Star state, in search of good food and good conversation. He visited Stafford, Midland and Garland for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
In Texas, impeachment came up frequently; overall, most voters were fatigued by it all. But those paying close attention defied party stereotypes.
Breakfast: Stafford, Texas
Garrett started in a diverse area outside of Houston, with eggs, hash browns and pancakes at the Avalon Diner in Stafford.
“The economy is going really well,” said dentist Scott Benoit. “I think overall we’re safe as a country. Everything’s going pretty well.”
The “Now Hiring” sign outside backs that up; the Avalon’s owner told us she’s lost workers to better jobs elsewhere.
Benoit did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016, but will this year. His wife Jeannine, a speech therapist, was with the president from the beginning. “I just have more conservative values, so I tend to go more with that person,” she said.
Just across from Scott and Jeannine, Garrett met Bernard and Sharon Maynore. Both work in health care. Bernard said, “I feel mystified when I’m listening to what Donald Trump has to say.”
Garrett asked, “How frequently now, or during the Trump presidency, have you found yourself shaking your head?”
“Every day,” Sharon replied. ” My co-workers said that we needed a change, they wanted to make America great again. I’m wondering, do those same people, do they think that he has made American great again?”
Lunch: Midland, Texas
Then it was on to lunch in conservative Midland, a boom town in West Texas, where oil and natural gas production runs around the clock
At Mac’s Bar-B-Q, a local favorite, the brisket is slow-cooked out back for 18 hours. Customers start arriving for lunch around 11.
Kyle Davis, his brother Jake, and their business partner Tom Hull run a construction and drilling company. Kyle and Jake support President Trump and expect him to be re-elected.
“I don’t like all the nonsense that comes with him,” Kyle said. “But yeah, his policy has been spot-on.”
Jake added, “I really don’t want another Obama. I kind of feel like he divided our country.”
Garrett asked both about impeachment. Kyle’s answer surprised him: “Was it an impeachable offense? Yeah, it sounds like it probably was,” he said.
Jake took the long view: “I’m sure at some point every president could have been impeached.”
Tom Hull calls himself a New England Republican and considers Mr. Trump a failure. “The economy’s been propped up with record levels of deficit spending,” he said. “And he picks fights that he doesn’t know how to get out of.”
Garrett also met Alison Loera, Laura Ortega and Jennifer Reyes. Loera works in insurance; Ortega and Reyes are data specialists for drilling companies.
They criticized the president for his comments about the Hispanic community. Loera said, “We feel targeted.”
Garrett asked, “Do you feel lumped in or somehow demonized?”
“In a way, I guess,” Loera replied.
Reyes said, “Comments like that shouldn’t be made by someone with that much power and authority.”
Dinner: Garland, Texas
Dinner took Garrett to The Flying Saucer pub in Garland, a politically-moderate area northeast of Dallas.
“I voted for Trump,” said Rita Dusek. “I did, because I thought we need somebody who’s not a politician. But that didn’t seem to work out,” she laughed.
Garrett asked, “Will you vote for him again?”
“No,” she said.
Her husband, Al, a registered Republican, said, “I did not vote for him. I don’t like extremism on either side.”
Just across the way Garrett met David Lindsay, who owns a construction firm. “The economy has probably been the best since I’ve owned the company,” he said.
“Do you give anyone in the political world credit for that?” asked Garrett.
“I will solidly give the president credit for doing it,” said Lindsey.
The president’s volatile style was raised: “Do you ever wish he would tone it down?” asked Garrett.
“Oh, yeah, I think somebody should hide his cellphone on him,” Lindsey said.
Blake Hammerton and Daniel Torres both opposed Mr. Trump in 2016, and will vote in the March 3 Texas Democratic primary.
“I have very, very strong feeling: the young vote will come out this year,” Torres said.
Garrett asked, “When you think about the Democrats, what are your thoughts?”
“Stop making everything a battle to the end,” Hammerton said. “The Democrats are exhausting themselves and exhausting the public.”
Sounds like they’re exhausting you? “Yes!” he said.
Garrett said of his excursion that, among Democrats, he did not find hard-core supporters of Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden. “Flat line across the board, Texas Democrats are waiting for Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada to sort this out,” he said. “Democrats said they were keeping an open mind for Texas’ “Super Tuesday” primary.”
One person they were keeping in mind, because he’s on TV so frequently in Texas, is Mike Bloomberg, he added, noting the billionaire’s strategy of creating an impression with voters via paid ads while his opponents – fighting it out in Iowa, New Hampshire and elsewhere – have yet to make an impression in the Lone Star State.
Garrett asked everyone if they had seen or remembered a Mike Bloomberg TV ad. All but two had. Trump supporters said they thought Bloomberg might give the president the toughest challenge.
“One other thing: when we asked people what they thought about the November election, they said two words: anticipation, and dread.”
Other entries in our “Three Meals” series:
Nevada voters talk immigration ahead of 2020What South Carolina voters want to see in 2020Iowa voters talk gun control and health care ahead of 2020New Hampshire voters voice concerns about the trade war and “Medicare for All”From student debt to health care, California voters sound off on issues that matter to themA road trip through red and blue MissouriVirginia voters, split on impeachment, share issues that matter for 2020