BOSTON (CBS) — In April of 2017, as newly-elected President Donald Trump approached his first 100 days in office, we went to the Liberty Bell Diner in Billerica — a relatively conservative town that went narrowly for Trump in the 2016 election — to sample public opinion on the new president’s performance. Unsurprisingly, it was divided.
Nearly two years later, with the second anniversary of the Trump inaugural at hand, we returned to the Liberty Bell to check in. And if anything, the divisions have deepened.
“I think he acts like a three-year-old,” said one middle-aged woman enjoying lunch with a friend, who added: “She thinks he’s a three-year-old, I think he’s more like a 13-year-old. I think he’s very sophomoric, I think the name-calling is ridiculous.”
But a few tables away, another woman about the same age saw things very differently. “He’s doing a fantastic job,” she said. “He’s keeping all his promises and he’s not a politician.”
For some, the strong economy has been a signature Trump accomplishment.
“I think he’s doing fantastic,” said a thirty-something man. “I think he’s not getting enough credit for the changes he’s made, including the tax cut.”
But for others, like a veteran we met worrying about the government shutdown’s impact on his benefits, Trump’s leadership has proven toxic.
“The whole thing with the shutdown, this should have been taken care of before the new Congress came in,” he said.
And no matter how you slice the issues, some voters here remain troubled by the president’s style and standards.
“Stop being a hothead and get along with Congress,” advised one.
“Act your age,” added another.
“It’s entertaining, right?” observed a third. But is that good for the country? “It’s good for the Trump organization.”
By contrast with our 2017 visit, many of the folks we approached just didn’t want to talk to us, a sign, perhaps, of the increasing polarization and bitterness of the Trump era. And there’s no end to that trend in sight.