On Saturday, Rep. Dave Trott (R-Mich.) had just wrapped up a boisterous town hall meeting in Novi, northwest of Detroit, and he was headed backstage — where a member of his team brainstormed an angle for the news media.
After Trott defended the Trump administration’s budget increase for defense funding, paid for by cuts to discretionary spending, he was booed in a politically potent way.
“We’re going to take that part where they’re booing funding the military, and I’m gonna get somebody to write a story, and we’re going to promote the s— out of that,” Republican strategist Stu Sandler could be heard saying on a video recorded by local TV station WDIV and uploaded by the district’s local branch of the Indivisible project. “It’s un-American crap.”
Sandler confirmed that he was the voice on the tape, telling The Post that he was genuinely put off by the crowd’s reaction.
“I was shocked and appalled at the majority of the audience that booed Congressman Trott when he stated ‘I support more funding for our military,’ Sandler explained in an email. “Our troops deserve better equipment and more pay.”
On Monday’s episode of “Fox and Friends,” a morning show that President Trump watches regularly, co-host Ainsley Earhardt framed the moment exactly the way Sandler wanted it. In a short segment, Trott portrayed himself as a defender of pay raises for the military, standing up to “Bernie Sanders socialists” and other malcontents.
“Another congressman booed at a town hall — this time, for supporting our troops,” said Earhardt, before playing the clip.
“Who doesn’t support our military? Why would they boo that?” Earhardt asked Trott.
“Well, I think several hundred people in that room don’t support the military, but I think it’s important,” he said. “You know, they deserve it. We voted for a 2.1 percent pay increase for the military.”
The military pay raise, passed during 2016’s lame-duck session of Congress, was not part of the defense budget asks from the Trump administration. After the Fox segment ran, Indivisible activists began demanding an apology from Trott.
“Congressman Trott needs to apologize to his constituents right away,” said Mark Barbieri, a Trott constituent who attended the meeting to describe his diabetic son’s experience under the Affordable Care Act. “Calling an entire crowd of concerned citizens ‘un-American’ is no way for an elected official to treat their constituents. I am literally fighting for my son’s life and to be called ‘un-American’ is beyond the pale.”