In the US president’s most recent spat, he told a group of Democrat congresswomen to ‘go back to where they come from’. For supporters the controversy means little.

As controversies continue to swirl around US President Donald Trump, his core supporters in the country’s heartland continue to view him favourably.

Trump has faced renewed accusations of racism after tweeting that members of Congress who criticise the US should “go back” to their countries of origin to fix problems there.

"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly ... and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," Trump tweeted on Sunday.

Though not named explicitly, the tweets were assumedly directed at four members of the House of Representatives, all of whom are women of colour and US citizens.

Furthermore, representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib were all born in the US, granting them birthright citizenship. Representative Ilhan Omar came to the US as a child under the country’s asylum laws, and has had citizenship since 2000, when she was 17 years old.

Omar and Tlaib are also the first two Muslim women to sit in the US Congress.

The representatives fired back at Trump, challenging his "xenophobic bigoted remarks" and calling for impeachment.

Trump, in response, doubled down on the tweets during a press conference, urging them to get out of the US instead of criticising it.

Although some Republican politicians have called Trump out, many of his allies remained quiet about the tweets, with some even defending them.

Marc Short, Chief of Staff for Vice President Mike Pence, told television channel Fox Business: "When people write the president has racist motives, look at the reality of who is serving in Donald Trump's cabinet." He was referencing Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, a naturalised US citizen originally from Taiwan.

Chao is currently the only person of colour in Trump’s cabinet following the resignation of Alex Acosta due to his role in the handling of a case against billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, an alleged child sex trafficker, who received what many view as a lenient sentence a decade ago in Florida where Acosta was the US prosecutor.

"He is making a point about a great frustration. I think it's hard to find anything that Ilhan Omar has said that is positive about the United States of America", Short said.

Booming economy

For Ron Boucher, a resident of the Texas Panhandle who works in petroleum and natural gas – popularly called the ‘oilfield’ – the pros of Trump’s presidency far outweigh the cons.

“He’s crazy, sure, but I like a lot of what he’s done. The economy is booming. Five years ago, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pay my mortgage, much less take my family on a vacation. Now we travel once a month,” Boucher told TRT World in an interview.

Boucher, 63, recounted trips to Oklahoma City, which has seen its own economic boom in recent years and the relocation of professional NBA team Oklahoma City Thunder from Seattle in 2008, which has led to a higher profile tourist destination

Trump has heralded the US economy under his presidency, with a record-low unemployment rate of around 3.8 percent as of June, down from 10 percent in 2009 at the depths of the Great Recession, and job growth is continuing.  

The US gross domestic product (GDP), a commonly-used tool to measure the market value of all goods and services produced in a given period, often annually, has seen steady growth, too, though not always at the rates expected.

However, some have observed it was already on an upward trend during former president Barack Obama’s administration, while others have noted lower-than-expected wage growth along with increasing cost of living, mostly through increasing property prices.

For Boucher, who lives in a small community of about 10,000 people, these economic pressures aren’t felt. He owns his home, which means he favours increases in property prices, and while his wage has remained the same he feels its more than enough.

“I’m planning on retirement,” Boucher said, explaining he hopes to end his career in the next two or three years, and he has invested in stocks. “The market is booming, I hope it goes long enough for me to cash out,” he said.

No favours

Still, not everyone in the oilfield views Trump favourably. Jose Montoya, a 32-year-old who works as a radiology technician on drill sites, told TRT World he hopes Trump loses the next election.

“I’m part of a generation wracked with student debt. Most of us won’t be able to buy a house without going deeper into debt. Our healthcare system is awful, and our wages aren’t growing,” Montoya said.  

Montoya said when he brings these issues up with coworkers, they say they’re lucky to have a job.

Citing the low unemployment rate, Montoya said employers are not willing to pay more for labour.

“I don’t know anyone who’s gotten a raise recently, just more work,” he said.

“The bosses aren’t doing us any favours, they’re just working us harder.”

Source: TRT World