On August 4, over 100 grassroots leaders representing 33 states gathered for the very first Citizens for Self-Governance Grassroots Roundtable. They came to discuss the upcoming presidential debate and voice what they believe is the opinion of the people they serve around the country.
Joining them were journalists from the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and various other national media outlets. As Mark Meckler, President and Founder of Citizens for Self-Governance, explained at the beginning of the call, many journalists are curious to know what the grassroots think about current topics, but aren’t sure where to begin. The Grassroots Roundtable was started as a way to fill that void.
So if you’re curious what the grassroots think about Donald Trump, which candidate they believe can beat Hillary, or which issues they want the candidates to address, check out our recording of last night’s event!
Below the video we’ve also included a summary of each question and many of the speakers’ thoughts, including some great quotes.
The call was hosted by Mark Meckler, President and Founder of Citizens for Self-Governance, and Tamara Colbert, Texas State Director for the Convention of States Project and Media Coordinator for Citizens for Self-Governance.
Mark began the call by explaining that the purpose of the Grassroots Roundtable is to give the grassroots a voice.
“My goal is to elevate the grassroots. The point [of the Grassroots Roundtable] is to let journalists hear from you directly.”
Question #1: What is it that you like or dislike about Donald Trump?
John – Nevada
John explained that what he believes most people like about Donald Trump is his refreshing fearlessness: “He seems to be saying the things most people are thinking and he seems totally unafraid.”
Sarah – Iowa
“I have mixed feelings about him,” Sarah said. He says things that excite people, but “I have serious misgivings because I’m not sure he’s constitutional.”
“He wants to run the government like a business, which is admirable in some respects, but that’s not what the government is there for. It’s there to protect our rights.”
John – New Hampshire
John was somewhat harsher in his criticism.
“He’s a bit of an unguided missal. I expect him every time he opens his mouth to say something so totally stupid he’s going to explode. And unfortunately he’s sucking all the oxygen out of the campaign and some of the other candidates just can’t get any time at all.”
Claude – South Carolina
Claude believes Americans must keep Trump’s background in mind: “He’s a businessman…he’ll say what he needs to say to get it done today. If you look at his history, he does not align with our values at all. It sounds good now, but if he thought he could have won in the Democrat race he would have done it. He’s an opportunist.”
Glenn – West Virginia
Glenn would like to see other candidates show the same boldness Trump has shown.
“Even though Trump is a buffoon, he’s saying what people want to hear. What I would like to hear is a mainstream candidate – Scott Walker – show the boldness Trump is showing.”
Mike – Florida
“Donald Trump is a leader,” Mike said. “He can’t be bought. What he has in common with the Tea Party is that he’s not for big government – and that is constitutional.”
Question #2: Would the folks in your groups support Trump or anybody running as a third party candidate?
Marty – Indiana
“It depends on who the Republican candidate is,” Marty said. “There’s not a lot of spine with many of those other candidates.”
Bob – North Carolina
“There’s very strong support for Donald Trump, but if he were to go third party he’d resoundingly lost all support in this area.”
Question #3: Is there anything the candidates aren’t talking about that is concerning to you?
Gentleman from Florida
This gentleman believes they should be talking about how to rein in the Supreme Court, restore checks and balances, and restore federalism.
Mike – North Carolina
Mike believes the biggest problem is the runaway federal government and the loss of the separation of powers. He also believes the candidates should be talking about the constitutional relationship between the states and the federal government.
Bob – Florida
“One thing I have heard nobody mention,” Bob observed, “is the national debt. Everybody is acting like they have blindfolds. I don’t care about me. I care about my grandchildren.”
Pam - Florida
Pam thinks the economy should be addressed more than it has. ”People are asking for solutions. Nobody is coming up for solutions for the economy and solutions for jobs.”
Question #4: Of all the candidates, who’s the best candidate to beat Hillary and why?
Keith -- Missouri
“Scott Walker is the person who has been tried in the fire for the last several years,” Keith said. “In a blue state they've tried to decimate him in several ways. He's shown he can build the right kind of team. He may not be as flashy as some of the folks on the stage on Thursday night. He's the type of person who can stay through a fiery situation and come out on the other side. That's why we're here."
Jim -- New York
Jim believes Ted Cruz has been unwavering since he's been in Congress. “He's done everything that he's said. He hasn't moved off his principles or been swayed. I think Ted Cruz is going to be another Ronald Reagan once people get to know who he is.”
Barbara - California
“I'd be happy if Donald Trump is President, Ted Cruz is Vice President,” Barbara said. “We're talking about illegal immigration and defunding Planned Parenthood because of Trump.”
Question #5: Do you believe that Hillary is actually going to be the nominee?
Rick -- Arizona
Rick said that Hillary is going to end up defeating herself. “The skeletons in her closet keep coming back to haunt her,” Rick observed. “It's going to end up backfiring on her.”
Marty - Indiana
“People are waiting with bated breath to see Hillary self-destruct. Many folks are saying Jim Webb is going to come up and make an impression on the Democratic Party.”
Question #6: If you were one of the moderators of the debate on Thursday, what question would you ask the candidates?
Jim - Arkansas
Do you swear to preserve and protect the Constitution of the United States? What does that mean to you?
Brad -- Illinois
How are you going to rein in the EPA and all the other unelected bureaucrats that are ruining this country and grabbing too much power?
Ginny - California
What would you do to limit the size, scope, and jurisdiction of the federal government?
Mark M.: "This is what I hear all across the country -- people are pushing back against federal overreach."
Ron - Colorado
How would you describe the fundamental difference between the conservative and progressive ideology?
Mark - Florida
How would you restore a free market economy?
Robert - Indiana
What agency or department of the federal government would you eliminate?
Sarah - Iowa
How are you going to ensure that the next generation is as prosperous as the one that came before?
Stabley - Arizona
What would you do to return us to constitutionally limited government?
Mark M: “Why is Trump polling so high?”
“It's a protest vote. I cannot imagine that they really think that he would win. I also wonder if they've really studied Trump's background -- he's supported very progressive issues, fiscally and socially.”
Glenn - West Virginia
Would you support a constitutional amendment to restore legislative power to the legislature?
Susan - Texas
What is your solution for the debt?
Bob - North Carolina
Aside from building a fence or otherwise securing the border, what would you do about the immigration problem?
Would you overturn Obama's executive order regarding entitlement programs?
Coleen - California
How would you as President restore accountability in the federal government?
Question #7: Who's the best candidate on the issues generally? Not who's most electable or who can beat Hillary -- who has the best command on the issues?
The responses to this question are as follows:
Ted Cruz – 21 votes
Donald Trump – 5 votes
Scott Walker – 4 votes
Carly Fiorina – 2 votes
Bobby Jindal – 1 vote
"Thanks to you all for being here. You're the best of the best,” Mark said at the conclusion of the call. “It's a privilege to know you guys. Let other folks know we're doing these calls as well. Also write to us and let us know what you think these calls should be about. You guys are the grassroots leaders and it’s our privilege to serve you."