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For a Trump Fan, a Week When Victory Ebbed Away


“I’m just tired of all the arguing that people are doing,” she said. “I wish sometimes Trump would just say — he doesn’t even have to mean it — that he would be the president for everybody. Just say those words.”

In the last hours of the campaign, Ms. Rocco’s confidence in Mr. Trump’s victory had begun to buckle. Late into the night, when he gave his final speech at a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., she was surprised to find herself weeping. “It was sad that it could be his last rally,” she said. “It could be that he could not be president anymore.”

At 7 on election night, the Roccos settled themselves on the sofa to watch the returns. Ms. Rocco was stress-eating Halloween candy, Kit Kats and Smarties.

They had passed the last hours of the campaign on a dark roadside outside a polling station, fingers frozen, waving Trump flags at passing vehicles. Mr. Rocco muttered to himself, “Me standing out here is kind of pointless.”

But then he reminded himself what kept him out there all these months: People had disrespected him. The Facebook group manager who had kicked him off. The neighbor who took his yard sign. Teachers who responded to his daughter’s enthusiasm about Mr. Trump with awkward silence.

“People who don’t like Trump, I honestly think they are very soft people,” he said. “That is why the world is becoming so sensitive today. Back in the day, you could throw a snowball at someone at school and everything was fine. Nowadays, a letter gets sent home: Your child is being mean.”

Mr. Trump, by contrast, “lives the way people used to live.”

Mr. Rocco has tried to do the same. His older brother, who he describes as the brainy one, took the other path, winning a scholarship to college. (He is the Biden voter.) But Mr. Rocco’s aspirations were staunchly blue-collar; he chose trade school and went to work at 17.

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