Republican Tiffany Arnone hopes for pouring rain on election day because she heard “it keeps the Democrats inside”.
Anderson, South Carolina – For Richard Mayatte, a 76-year-old shop keeper from Anderson, South Carolina, the presidential election is just a reminder that poor white people like him will stay poor despite the election rhetoric coming from both candidates.
While Hillary Clinton is not perfect, he says, she is 10 times better than Donald Trump, whom he describes as a “liar”, “stupid” and “manipulative”.
Mayatte, who walks around his shop carrying a gun around his waist like an old movie cowboy, has been running his ramshackle and cluttered business for more than 25 years and is struggling to make ends meet. He sells small grocery items such as milk, drinks, potato chips and fishing bait.
According to polls, Trump supporters tend to be older, poor, southern white men not only in this southern state, but across the United States.
Mayatte says that Trump does not deserve to become president, much less have his finger on the nuclear button, because he basically is all about himself, not America as he claims.
“Trump says he is a successful businessman but in reality he is no. He got his money from his dad and he hurt and cheated so many people along the way. He is also a tax cheat.”
Sporting a long white beard, Mayatte is soft spoken and his calm demeanor comes across as friendly and non-threatening despite the gun around his waist.
Mayatte explains that as a shop owner, he carries the gun for protection as he has a legal right to do in the state. Mayatte’s customers who have known him for decades, affectionately call him “Papa Ric” and barely take notice of his firearm.
Unlike many of his fellow South Carolinians, however, who dislike Clinton and think that if she is elected president, she will take away their right to bear arms, Mayatte is not worried.
Clinton will not and cannot take away the right of American citizens to carry arms because it’s a constitutional right, he says. “If anything, Clinton, if elected, she could only try to add more restrictions on the gun permit process to make it harder for criminals to buy weapons.”
He argues that most of those who support Trump are driven by Trump’s racist appeal to whites, especially by his attacks of American Muslims, immigrants and Latinos. “Trump should not be saying those things against Muslims and others because that’s just wrong and un-American.”
Mayatte lives in a room adjacent to his shop, while his disabled 42-year-old son, also called Richard, lives in another room. Mayatte said his son suffered a injury to his spinal cord in an accident when he was 19 and has been paralysed since. “I live to care for my son,” he said.
The younger Richard spends his days seated in the shop watching daytime entertainment TV, and news. He echoes many of his father’s political views. “In America, rich people get richer and poor people like us who struggle every day just to keep the power on or pay our bills, get poorer,” he said.
Mayatte said he will go and cast his vote on Tuesday, although he knows that South Carolina is a Republican red state and will go to Trump.
Follow Ali Younes on Twitter: @ali_reports