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Young Republicans share why they're supporting Trump

ADRIAN FLORIDO, HOST:

Despite the 2024 election being 15 months away, some Republicans already know where they stand.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) Trump. Trump. Trump.

FLORIDO: That happened during an event hosted by Turning Point Action, a group focused on engaging young conservative activists. And unlike young Democrats, who are lukewarm on President Biden, these young Republicans are feeling pretty good about former President Donald Trump. NPR's Elena Moore reports.

ELENA MOORE, BYLINE: Eighteen-year-old Mya Conrad stands in the back of a packed ballroom. Trump is about to take the stage.

MYA CONRAD: I'm obviously super-excited.

MOORE: She's a new voter, but ahead of 2024, her mind is already made up.

CONRAD: I've been a fan of him ever since 2016, when I was 12 years old - so O.G. Trump fan. I love all the other candidates. I think it's a really solid lineup, but I'm just very loyal to the MAGA movement.

MOORE: Conrad is one of more than 2,500 students attending a recent conference for young conservatives in West Palm Beach, Fla.

AUSTIN NELLIUS: Trump all the way. I'm on that Trump train.

MOORE: That's 23-year-old Austin Nellius. He's a cabinetmaker from Pennsylvania who also does political podcasting. To him and many others here, Trump is the clear answer. But what about the candidate running second to Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis?

NELLIUS: And I feel like conservatives would have been more in favor of supporting him in '28. But now that he went in the race against Trump, I feel like his chances are shot for the long haul.

MOORE: And the Trump-DeSantis rivalry came up a lot. But to student Megan Ramon, that kind of party infighting turns her off.

MEGAN RAMON: The Republican Party as a whole is, like, so divided. And, like, really, our ultimate goal should be about winning.

MOORE: When it comes to winning, the primary is just the first step. Eventually, it could just be another Biden-Trump rematch, which brings up the topic of age. At 80 years old, President Biden is the oldest president ever elected. But Trump is only three years younger and held the same title before Biden did. Plus, despite Biden's low approval with young voters, Americans under 30 have overwhelmingly voted with Democrats. So Republicans have their work cut out for them, especially as far-right leaders continue to take stances on social issues that don't resonate with a lot of Gen Z and younger millennials.

BLAINE HIBBERT: Look. I'm pro-life. I'm pro-gun.

MOORE: That's student attendee Blaine Hibbert. He says Republicans can't lose sight of what brings in undecided voters - so pocketbook issues, the economy, gas prices, all that jazz.

HIBBERT: That's where you have - we have to run on these fiscal conservative issues that the left is just not with us on.

MOORE: But for some young conservative voters like student Cierra Becker (ph), it's much less about policy and much more about personality.

CIERRA BECKER: If Trump's in the Republican Party, that's who I'm voting for. If he was in the Democratic Party, I'd be voting for him there. It's really a, I like Donald Trump, not necessarily, I am a Republican or Democrat.

FLORIDO: But as the primary season heats up, Trump's road to the White House is already rocky this year. He's been indicted once on state and once on federal charges. Now he's likely about to be indicted a third time related to his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLITICAL AD)

DONALD TRUMP: They're not coming after me. They're coming after you, and I just happen to be standing in their way. And I will never be moving.

MOORE: To 23-year-old Hailee Berlin, who was torn between Trump and DeSantis, the investigations make her like Trump more.

HAILEE BERLIN: It kind of, like, fueled my fury. And I was not really thinking about voting for him, but then now I do.

MOORE: So at least for young conservatives invested in the party, Trump's drama, legal and otherwise, isn't going to diminish their support. Elena Moore, NPR News, West Palm Beach, Fla.

(SOUNDBITE OF RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS SONG, "SCAR TISSUE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Elena Moore is a production assistant for the NPR Politics Podcast. She also fills in as a reporter for the NewsDesk. Moore previously worked as a production assistant for Morning Edition. During the 2020 presidential campaign, she worked for the Washington Desk as an editorial assistant, doing both research and reporting. Before coming to NPR, Moore worked at NBC News. She is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and is originally and proudly from Brooklyn, N.Y.
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