CNN's Van Jones Speaks With Obama Voters Who Switched To Trump

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On a CNN special Tuesday night called 'The Messy Truth,' Van Jones spoke with a family of people in Trumbull County, Ohio who voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and switched to Donald Trump in 2016.

Transcript, via CNN:


JONES: A giant legend. But -- but before we hear from them, I personally discovered a messy truth last week in Ohio. Let me introduce to you a family of two-time Obama voters who switched in 2016 to vote for Donald Trump.

Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONES (voice-over): Farmland and factories dominate the landscape and union Democrats dominate local politics. But over the last 40 years, well, actually, the last four years, especially Obama's second term, industry has been hit hard. Many steel mills, manufacturing plants have been closed and thousands of jobs have been lost.

I'm invited to dinner with a family of Trump supporters to talk politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.

JONES (on camera): Hello.

How are you?

(voice-over): Scott Seitz is a lifelong Democrat who voted for Obama twice. Cameron, his only son, who was old enough to vote in the last election also supported Obama.

This year, all four Sikes men voted for Trump.

(on camera): What did you like about Obama and then what did you like about Trump?

SCOTT SEITZ, OHIO DEMOCRAT WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP: I take Obama represents a lot of love. And I think that he's a good man and he did all he could and we supported him for two elections.

JONES: Yes.

SEITZ: And then when those changes really didn't come about and ObamaCare actually affected me personally with my own mother, I think we needed a change once again.

Trump seemed to come through here and he's speaking change again. So I think we still voted for change.

JONES: (INAUDIBLE)?

DERINDA SEITZ, ABSTAINED FROM VOTING FOR PRESIDENT: I -- I just, you know, I -- I wouldn't vote for either one.

JONES: So you voted for a Democrat all the way down but could not vote for Hillary Clinton?

D. SEITZ: No. It was just her morals and his morals. I just -- no, it -- they -- they both scared me.

JONES: So let me give you guys a chance to respond to some of the stereotypes about all the Trump voters.

All the Trump voters hate the Mexicans, they hate Muslims, they don't like black people, they're just -- it was all this explosive kind of racial talk was what really got everybody going.

CAMERON SEITZ, OHIO DEMOCRAT WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP: One of my jobs is helping counseling individuals recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. And I'm just going by the statistics. At my location, most of them are minorities. I would probably go as far as to say 80 to 85 percent.

So, you know, if that were the case and if I was racist, then I just don't believe that I'd be very good at my job.

But I'm not the stereotype that individuals think we are.

JONES: So how does a billionaire -- I mean you guys are serious like the working class backbone of America in the industrial heartland.

I mean how -- how does a billionaire break through to the blue collar worker?

S. SEITZ: We put Democrats in office. And she turned around and forgot completely about us. We are what makes this world go around.

We built the tanks and bombs that won these country's wars and for you to come through here and completely neglect us, we would have rather vote for -- for anybody instead of her. And all the other stuff that Donald said didn't seem to make a hill of beans. She hurt us. And that's what it is.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

JONES: Please welcome Derinda and Scott Seitz right here, all the way from Ohio.

(APPLAUSE)

JONES: You know, that was a life-changing thing for me and I just learned so much from you. It was a -- it was a -- a total stereotype shatterer.

What do you hope people who are watching, people who are in this room, can learn from you, from your family and your experience so far?

S. SEITZ: We truly want to make America better. And you have enlightened us, as well. We hope that the bleeding can actually stop in our area. The Rust Belt area is filled with United Autoworkers, United Steelworkers and everything trickles down from that. And when they seem to suffer, the rest of us suffer. And we need to stop the bleeding.

JONES: Well, you know, you gave Trump a chance, so, you know, you broke my heart. I'm mad. I wish you'd stayed with the Democrats, but you gave him a chance.

What would it look like -- I mean what -- he owes you now.

I mean what needs to happen for you to feel like you jumping the fence was worth it?

S. SEITZ: Well, would like to see him come to area and at least walk through and see what we see each and every day. We have a ton of mills that have seemed to close up and not only did they close up, but they've been torn down and removed. They look like ghost towns.

JONES: Yes, I saw that. I mean that was -- that was crazy. There were these big mills that have been there your whole life, your parents' life, your grandparents' life, that have been razed to the ground just in the past several months.

So these -- these bombs were falling on your landscape in the election season and you didn't feel that the Democrats were even taking note.

S. SEITZ: Absolutely. We feel that they came through and paid close attention to the special interests and completely forgot about us.

JONES: Well, you know, I'm very curious about you, because all the men in your family, your sons, everybody voted for Trump.

You went down, you voted for every Democrat on the ballot, but when it came to the presidency, what did you do?

D. SEITZ: I didn't vote for anybody.

JONES: You didn't vote for anybody.

D. SEITZ: Nobody.

JONES: But you are a woman.

D. SEITZ: I...

JONES: And you are a Democratic woman. And Hillary Clinton, as best I can tell...

D. SEITZ: I guess that...

JONES: -- is a woman.

(LAUGHTER)

JONES: So I don't get it.

D. SEITZ: She scared me. Donald scared me. So I just -- my morals could not allow me to mark -- like I told you, she did her job in making me not want to vote for Trump, all those scary things about what he says. But she didn't do her job in showing me why I should vote for her.

JONES: Wow! Yes, well, I mean that's a -- that's a heartbreaker, I think, for a lot of Democrats to hear. One more thing I want that -- that blew my mind when we were talking. I'm a, you know, strong believer that we need to have good common sense gun regulations. I've been talking about that. I've been going on about that. You know, I do a lot of work in urban environments. We've got too much gun violence.

But when you hear something about guns and the Second Amendment, you think about meat in your freezer. Tell us about that.

S. SEITZ: Absolutely. When we get a downturn in the economy, we need to still feed our families. And when they talk about the Second Amendment or taking our guns away, that's exactly what we think of, all the time that we have hunting together and, as a family, and we got out and we harvest and we put food in the -- in the freezer.

And when we get slow at work, we still have food to feed our families. And that's most important to us. We need to put food on the table.

JONES: You know, I think people don't know -- first of all, I don't think Hillary Clinton wants to take those hunting rifles. I don't think people understand it's an economic issue for a lot of people, especially people who are on -- on the bubble.

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