Vermont's GOP Chair On The First 100 Days Of Trump's Presidency

Apr 25, 2017

This Saturday marks President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. VPR spoke to David Sunderland, chair of Vermont's Republican Party, for his perspective on the first 100 days of the new administration.

This transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity. Listen to the full audio above.

VPR: What did you like or not like so much in these first hundred days?

Sunderland: “I think what [Trump’s] done in his first 100 days is what he campaigned on doing. You know, he was elected certainly in a surprise election. In a national referendum, which is our election, his agenda was supported by a majority of Americans, and he's executing that to the best of his ability.”

Do you think that President Trump in the first 100 days has done enough to try and bring people together? He didn't win the popular vote, he won the electoral college. So is there an effort by this president to bring people together and get them talking with each other?

“I certainly hope so, and I think his presidency is still young, and I look forward to what may be coming in the near future and we'll see how that goes. I think there is a learning curve with any president in his first few months in office.

“But I think closer to Vermont, we have huge issues that we're dealing [with] here … We're dealing with six fewer Vermonters in the workforce every single day. We're dealing with three fewer kids in our educational system every single day and every day in Vermont there's one baby born addicted to drugs.

“Those are just things that we have got to change and I'm disappointed in our Legislature. I'm disappointed in the priorities that the Vermont Democrats have put forward in the Legislature, the bills that they're passing. None of them address these very foundational significant issues."

Do you think that Donald Trump is the right president to help Vermont and turn this around?

"I think his focus on the economy, his focus on job creation, his focus on reducing regulation and red tape in Washington, D.C., are all steps in the right direction.

Gov. Scott, a Republican, has gone against the grain by resisting active cooperation between local law enforcement and ICE officials when it comes to informing ICE of people who may be here illegally. There are a lot of undocumented immigrants working on Vermont's dairy farms. How does the Vermont GOP membership feel about the position that Gov. Scott has taken on Trump's immigration policy?

“I think there's people within our party who are significantly concerned with the safety aspect of our current immigration policy. I think it's common knowledge that there are people in the world who would like to come to our country and do harm. It's not everyone, but there certainly is a segment of a population that would like to do that.

“So we have to weigh the benefits of a common sense immigration policy with the safety of Americans here at home.”

How do you think the budget President Trump is proposing would affect Vermont if it passed?

“Well I think the budget, any kind of budget, is always a listing of priorities. The budget that President Trump has proposed is very much what he campaigned on.

"You know, I think Vermonters will be much more impacted by what's happening here in Vermont. And I'm very pleased to see that Gov. [Phil] Scott has held the line and has played it tough with the Democrats in the Legislature to say that he will not support any new taxes or fees. I think that's a very positive step for Vermonters.”

What about things that could affect Vermont coming out of Washington?  For example, money that could potentially come to Vermont or not come to Vermont for lake cleanup.

“I think it could. And I think as our governor [and] our Legislature prioritize things in the state budget and transmit that message to Washington, there will be some back and forth on that.

“But again I think Americans in general said, ‘Hey, we are spending too much money. We're taxed too much and we've gone beyond what is acceptable and voted for a different direction.’

“And definitely there'll be tough choices to make as there is in any budget process.”