How Trump lost his luster for one Tea Party couple


CHARLESTON, S.C. — Donald Trump, the fiery Republican frontrunner who currently leads the polls in South Carolina, isn’t as bombastic in person. And his wavering views have lost him support among the deeply conservative voters he has prided himself on winning over.

That’s according to Mike Haynes, a 32-year-old State Farm agent from Charleston whose Tea Party connections have gotten him personal access to the New York businessman. The two have had lunch and taken pictures together.

“He’s in person a little bit of a quiet man,” Mike said. “But he’s very opinionated, he’s very positive in his thinking.”

Mike and his wife, Heidi, first declared their support for Trump back in 2015 after hearing him speak at a Tea Party convention. “It was really invigorating. He’s very charismatic,” Heidi remembered. “We liked a lot of what we heard him say.”

But on Friday afternoon, the couple were outside a Ted Cruz rally at the College of Charleston, him sporting a peppy “Cruz” button, her in a patriotic red dress and jean jacket. Heidi switched her allegiance last August, she said, while it took her husband until December.

“He changes what he says depending on who he’s speaking to,” Heidi said of Trump, noting that she and Mike are against gambling, one of the industries that has built Trump’s financial success.

“The simple fact that he won’t apologize for anything … you gotta show humility,” Mike added.

Mike knows Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’ father, and Heidi has met Cruz himself. Mike believes that this year’s Republican ticket needs a hard-line conservative as the nominee with a more moderate running mate, much the opposite of the McCain-Palin ticket that lost the race in 2008.

And now, due to his “proven track record,” Mike said, that means Cruz. “When you see Ted, you love Ted just by looking at him.

But Trump is still their number two choice.

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