DETROIT, Mich. — One of the first campaign stops Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made after spending six months sequestered in his home during the coronavirus pandemic was to the Michigan suburb of Warren.
The small city sits on the edge of the blighted remains of Detroit in the now-infamous Macomb County, an area which broke for Donald Trump in 2016 and was credited with handing him the traditionally Democratic state by just 10,704 ballots in a shocking upset to Hillary Clinton.
The road to the White House in 2020 will again run through rural, blue-collar communities like Macomb County in the Rust Belt states of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.
Biden has increasingly leaned into his working-class roots and pro-union chops in a bid to wrestle these voters back from Trump, and the former veep consistently leads in the polls in these must-win states.
But speaking to voters in Warren this week, The Post found a different story on the ground: a number of Clinton supporters on the fence about Biden or who had switched camps to Trump.
“I am a Donald Trump supporter but I can’t tell any of my friends,” said Kathy Connolly, 72, a semi-retired real estate agent who voted for Clinton four years ago.
Connolly said she didn’t approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic or his “name calling” but for her the biggest issue was the economy after she was widowed.
“[Trump] made my life easier with the stock market. I have a lot of money in the stock market and I actually have more money now than when my husband died eight years ago,” the Macomb County woman said.
“As far as his morals, I don’t like them. As far as his policies, I like them,” she added.
When asked what she thought of the 77-year-old Biden, Connolly believed he was “too old to be president” and questioned his mind. “That’s what scares me about him,” she said. Trump is 74.
Lifelong Democratic voter Barbara, 57, who only gave her first name, also voted for Clinton four years ago and was shocked when Trump flipped Macomb County from blue to red with 48,348 votes.
“I was surprised but I think he’s going to win again. A lot of people believe in him and stand behind him,” the thrift store employee said of the commander in chief.
Trump smashed the Democratic Party’s blue wall in 2016, turning Rust Belt states red that hadn’t been won by a GOP presidential candidate in decades.
His promise to return manufacturing jobs to the US and bust bad trade deals endeared him to working-class Americans living in communities that had been hollowed out by the loss of tens of thousands of well-paying jobs.
Macomb in particular is the county to watch because it has sided with the winner in all but three of the last 20 elections for governor or president.
When asked if Trump had kept his word to the people of Macomb, Barbara said he hadn’t.
She is currently collecting unemployment and doesn’t want to return to work until there is a COVID-19 vaccine.
“I think it’s gotten worse. I just think economically, everything – he’s just not good for the county, he’s not a good leader,” she said.
But the Michigander said she wasn’t thrilled about Biden either, citing his shape-shifting stances on issues like climate change and policing.
“Biden is OK, I guess, but people just say stuff about him and some of his policies I don’t agree with,” she said.
Warren Mayor Jim Fouts backed Bernie Sanders in 2016 and said he believed the “highly ethical” nominee was right on many issues and would be the party’s candidate if he had dropped his socialist label.
“I do think there are some Sanders people struggling with, ‘Should I vote for Joe Biden, or should I vote for Donald Trump, or should I stay home?’” he said of November’s looming election.
The independent senator from Vermont narrowly bested Clinton in the Wolverine State in a staggering primary victory before the former secretary of state won the party’s nomination.