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Ohio Republican Leader Shares Her Hopes For Trump Presidency


Washington has begun to fill with the tens of thousands - perhaps hundreds of thousands - of people coming here for the inauguration tomorrow and for this weekend's Women's March. Tracey Winbush made the trip from Youngstown, Ohio. She is the vice chair of the Mahoning County Ohio Republicans whom I met a few days ahead of the election, and she joins me now in the studio in Washington. Hi. How've you been?

TRACEY WINBUSH: I'm well. How are you?

SIEGEL: You're in town for the inauguration - not your first, I understand.

WINBUSH: No. This is my third.

SIEGEL: Tell me about the others.

WINBUSH: I was here in '05, I was here in '09, and I'm here in '17. I will thank you so much for the weather.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) Oh-five was the second inaugural for President George W. Bush...


SIEGEL: ...Like you, a Republican. Oh-nine was the first inaugural of Barack Obama, a Democrat. You came here to town for that.

WINBUSH: He was the first African-American president. I expected more out of him than I got, but I had to honor the significance of his win.

SIEGEL: When you were animated, as an African-American, and connected to it.

WINBUSH: Absolutely. I never thought I'd see it. I'm glad that I did.

SIEGEL: Has the discussion about politics and Donald Trump among family and friends - has it changed much since when I saw you just before the election?

WINBUSH: Usually when I come to D.C., I stay with a friend. She wouldn't let me stay because I was coming to the inauguration of Donald Trump.

SIEGEL: You were unwanted in her home.

WINBUSH: I think that's sad. I have friends who are friends on Facebook who have unfriended me. They won't talk to me, won't answer my calls because of my alliance with Mr. Trump. They don't understand that we fight, and then we work together to win.

SIEGEL: The period, though, between election day and inauguration day is a time when a victorious candidate who typically has been opposed by - who knows? - at least 45 percent of the people who cast their votes - but there's usually some reach out and some actions that bring people together. Do you fault him at all for not trying to meet people halfway in some manner?

WINBUSH: Every time he's extended his hand, I think they've slapped it, from election night to the protest outside to the thousands of letters that people got who were electors.

SIEGEL: The campaign to try to influence the Electoral College vote. Yeah.

WINBUSH: The Electoral College - absolutely. All the way to the congressman saying he's not a legitimate president.

SIEGEL: Congressman John Lewis of Georgia...


SIEGEL: ...A civil rights activist. You disagree with this.

WINBUSH: I disagree. He's a representative. I honor his history, and I appreciate it as an African-American, but this is not about his history. This is about his present. People who are the citizens of America, we boycott. Representatives represent. He has access to the president. He should be talking to him about what's needed in urban America and in his district, not boycotting and making enemies walking in.

SIEGEL: You're from Youngstown, Ohio.


SIEGEL: You're familiar with your city being used as a backdrop by politicians who come through and say, we're going to fix this. We're going to bring jobs to Youngstown, and this old steel city is going to hum again. What kinds of promises about jobs in Youngstown do you think are worth holding President Trump to?

WINBUSH: We need to have a education initiative, so we need some type of programming that's going to make that happen because right now in Youngstown, a lot of our problem with job growth is not having skilled labor.

SIEGEL: I've one micro-political question for you.


SIEGEL: You're a Republican county vice chair in Ohio.


SIEGEL: There was an election for a state Republican chair in Ohio.


SIEGEL: And the incumbent, Matt Borges, is a supporter of Governor Kasich and supported by Governor Kasich, was beaten by Jane Timken, who was supported by Donald Trump. The right move for the Ohio Republicans?

WINBUSH: Jane Timken is going to make an excellent chairman. I think the party has changed under Donald Trump. The party has become something that we haven't seen yet, and she is going to be able to take the vision that Mr. Trump has and make it what needs to happen in Ohio because we're going into '18. And '18 that's going to be just as significant a winning as '16.

SIEGEL: The governorship is up in 2018.

WINBUSH: And governorship is up and so is another senator seat - Sherrod Brown. And we plan on being victorious, and so we've got a great candidate that's going to run. And we have to have a solid foundation to build on and to thrive on so that they can get their message out.

SIEGEL: Well, Tracy, it was great to meet you in Youngstown just before the election, and now it's good to see you in Washington on the eve of the inauguration. Thanks for coming.

WINBUSH: Thank you. I appreciate it.

SIEGEL: Tracey Winbush, who is vice chair of the Mahoning County - that's Youngstown, Ohio - Republicans and now treasurer of the Ohio State Republican Party. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.