Trump’s planned Claremont visit catches some residents, visitors unaware

At Studio 41 in Claremont, N.H. Brandon George, 27, of Claremont gets his bi-monthly haircut by owner Chance Easter, 27, of Chester, Vt. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Both were asked their opinion about Donald Trump who will be making a campaign stop on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

At Studio 41 in Claremont, N.H. Brandon George, 27, of Claremont gets his bi-monthly haircut by owner Chance Easter, 27, of Chester, Vt. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Both were asked their opinion about Donald Trump who will be making a campaign stop on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. valley news photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Sean Rohberon, 37, of Charlestown, Vt., gives his opinion about Donald Trump when picking some things up at Triple Play on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 in Claremont, N.H. Trump will be making a campaign stop in the city on Saturday.  (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Sean Rohberon, 37, of Charlestown, Vt., gives his opinion about Donald Trump when picking some things up at Triple Play on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023 in Claremont, N.H. Trump will be making a campaign stop in the city on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

Mackenzie Godin, 22 and William Clough, 40 of Claremont, N.H., say they are both supporters of Donald Trump on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Trump will be making a campaign stop in Claremont on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Mackenzie Godin, 22 and William Clough, 40 of Claremont, N.H., say they are both supporters of Donald Trump on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Trump will be making a campaign stop in Claremont on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News photographs — Jennifer Hauck

Hairstylist, Katelyn Duford, 35, of Springfield, Vt., works on a client at Studio 41 in Claremont, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Duford was giving her opinions of Donald Trump, who will be making a campaign stop in Claremont on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Hairstylist, Katelyn Duford, 35, of Springfield, Vt., works on a client at Studio 41 in Claremont, N.H. on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023. Duford was giving her opinions of Donald Trump, who will be making a campaign stop in Claremont on Saturday. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

By ALEX HANSON

Valley News Staff Writer

Published: 11-10-2023 9:37 PM

CLAREMONT — One of the most talked-about politicians in recent memory is bringing his campaign to the city on Saturday.

But not many Claremont residents seem all that eager to talk about him. A reporter strolling around town Wednesday encountered three business owners who had strong views about the 45th president but didn’t want to voice them, fearing they would make patrons uncomfortable, lose business or, as one put it, leave them with “a rock through my window.”

Not surprisingly, the handful of people who were willing to speak had mixed views, ranging from apathy to disgust to enthusiasm. Most expressed surprise that Donald J. Trump was coming to town. (He’s slated to speak at 2 p.m. at Stevens High School. Doors open at 11 a.m., and attendees are supposed to register through the campaign’s website.)

“I don’t even vote,” Claremont native Brandon George, 27, said while getting his hair cut at Studio 41 on Pleasant Street. The former president seems like a mixed bag to him.

“He had a lot of good opportunities to say the right things, but he said the wrong things,” said a dispassionate George, who works at the APC paper mill in Claremont.

But since Trump left office in 2021, he said, the economy has seemed uncertain.

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“I feel like the grocery bill’s gone up 75% in the last few years,” George said.

Chance Easter, who co-owns Studio 41 with his wife, Katie Easter, said he didn’t have strong views about the former president.

“I try not to hold opinions on people I haven’t met,” said Easter, 27, a Sacramento, Calif., native who moved to the area in May 2022. The Easters live in Chester, Vt.

Studio 41 rents its barber chairs to individual barbers and stylists. While she was coloring a customer’s hair, Katelyn Duford, 35, of Springfield, Vt., expressed an unfavorable view of Trump: “He is a chauvinist pig who doesn’t respect women.” (Her customer, another business owner, declined to comment.)

Duford said she tends to vote for people over policies and that she hopes another candidate wins the GOP nomination for president. (A primary win would make Trump his party’s standard-bearer for the third straight cycle, something that hasn’t happened since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected to four consecutive terms in the 1930s and ’40s, which ushered in a two-term limit.)

Duford said she’s also not a big fan of President Joseph Biden. “I’m just hoping for something fresh and better,” she said. She’s raising two daughters, she added, and can’t support someone who doesn’t respect women.

From behind the counter of Granite State Hobbies, owner Melissa Partridge said she thinks “it’s great” that Trump is coming to town. She voted for him and plans to again.

“His mouth did get in the way a bit,” Partridge, a 45-year-old Claremont resident, said. But, “I just felt the country was in a better place back then.” She considers herself an independent voter, not beholden to a political party.

After shopping at Triple Play, a comics, cards and games shop, Sean Rohberon, of Charlestown, said he doesn’t like Biden or Trump, with a caveat.

“I dislike Trump more because from my point of view, Trump emboldens a sect of the population that is much more prone to acts of violence against marginalized people,” Rohberon, 37, said. “With Biden, we’re at least dealing with the everyday stupid political crap that we’d have to deal with” with most politicians.

Triple Play owner Mike Butkus didn’t much want to talk about Trump.

“I don’t like him much, either,” he said. “But I really like the economy.”

He pointed toward Broad Street and Stevens High School, where Trump will be speaking.

Even though it’s just three blocks away, Butkus wasn’t interested in going to see him.

 Alex Hanson can be reached at ahanson@vnews.com or 603-727-3207.