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Many Texans Who Voted For Trump Are Not In A Conciliatory Mood

NOEL KING, HOST:

There was a moment close to the election when some Democrats thought Texas could be winnable. President Trump ended up carrying it by six points. When you look at a map of Texas, there's an ocean of red with a couple of blue patches. Those blue patches are big cities. Once you get outside of those cities, lots of people who voted for President Trump are very unhappy. Here's NPR's John Burnett.

JOHN BURNETT, BYLINE: To reach Trump country in Texas, drive in almost any direction from a major metro area. I went to the town of Bastrop, just east of Austin, on a balmy Sunday as people were raking leaves and coming back from church. To the 56% of voters here who carried the county for Trump, it seems incredible, as the election results sink in and Joe Biden prepares for the transition, that they are the losing team.

MELINDA LEEP: I don't think he's won fair and square, so I don't think he's so far is my - going to be my president.

BURNETT: Melinda Leep (ph), a 60-year-old housekeeper, stood outside her house with her rescue dog, Sidney (ph), and expressed her suspicion of Biden's victory.

LEEP: He didn't have thirty, forty thousand people going to a rally. He doesn't support Israel like our president does and religious freedoms. So that's why I support Trump. God bless America and America bless God.

BURNETT: In his acceptance speech in Delaware on Saturday night, Biden proclaimed to be president for all Americans. I asked Dave Hill (ph), a 72-year-old retiree whose house is festooned with flags, if he heard the speech. No. Was he interested in burying the hatchet and considering Joe Biden's unified America? He gave me a wry smile.

DAVE HILL: No. I wouldn't want to be with him at all.

BURNETT: Hill said there are bad feelings among Republicans he knows. They watched four years of Democrats clashing with the president. And as a zealous Trump supporter in Bastrop, he felt it, too.

HILL: The harassment from the Democrats was tremendous. Certain people, they were very rude towards me personally.

BURNETT: There is a billboard on the highway leading out of town that reads follow God, buy guns, vote Trump. Max Faubus (ph), a 75-year-old retired building inspector, believes, as do lots of conservative evangelicals, that Donald Trump's presidency is part of biblical prophecy. He points to the president's accomplishments - relocating the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and getting several Arab countries to move toward diplomatic relations with Israel.

MAX FAUBUS: I believe that these are the end times. I believe that there won't be long before Jesus is coming back. If you read in Matthew, there's going to be a divisive time. There's going to be a brother against brother. And I've seen contention, but I've never seen it like it is right now.

BURNETT: OK. Faubus has never seen it as contentious as he sees it now. Is he willing to meet Biden halfway? First, he believes the president's tweets that Democrats are using absentee ballots to steal the election. There is, by the way, zero proof of this. But if Trump ultimately concedes, Max Faubus says he will respect the presidency.

FAUBUS: Back then, I did not agree with what Obama was going to do, and I do not agree with what Biden will do, but I'm not going to talk ugly about it if he is actually legally put in as president. And I will support him as a human being.

BURNETT: But for the record, not one Trump supporter I spoke with in Bastrop believes that Joe Biden can bring the country together. Folks are so divided.

John Burnett, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF BALMORHEA'S "ARTIFACT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Southwest correspondent based in Austin, Texas, John Burnett covers immigration, border affairs, Texas news and other national assignments. In 2018, 2019 and again in 2020, he won national Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association for continuing coverage of the immigration beat. In 2020, Burnett along with other NPR journalists, were finalists for a duPont-Columbia Award for their coverage of the Trump Administration's Remain in Mexico program. In December 2018, Burnett was invited to participate in a workshop on Refugees, Immigration and Border Security in Western Europe, sponsored by the RIAS Berlin Commission.

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