LIHUE — When President Donald Trump wrapped up his State of the Union address Tuesday, Sandi Sterker rose from her seat, raised her arms, pumped her fists and then applauded. She had a big smile and seemed near tears.
“It gave me goosebumps, especially right at the end,” she said. “I thought it was a wonderful, bipartisan speech. I thought he put out the facts of what we’re looking at for keeping America strong. I am very happy with this president. He really thinks about us as American people.”
Sterker was one of about 25 Republicans who gathered at Mariachi’s Mexican restaurant in Lihue to watch the president’s speech on two big screen televisions.
It was a fired-up, passionate crowd who cheered, clapped, and shouted their support for Trump throughout his one hour and 22 minute address. They withheld responding to hecklers who shouted a few remarks from outside the dining room.
There were frequent outbursts of “Yes, yes,” and “Yeah,” as the president spoke.
At one point, they broke into a chant, “Build that wall, build that wall.”
At another, they yelled in unison, “USA, USA.”
When Trump said, “We will never be a socialist country,” some pounded on the table.
When he talked of prohibiting late-term abortion, one woman rose from her chair and applauded.
When a closeup of a frowning Sen. Bernie Sanders filled the screen, they jeered, laughed and whooped.
Later, Trump talked about U.S. troops in the Middle East.
“Bring them home,” shouted a man as he clapped.
When the president finished his speech, some in the group at Mariachi’s gave him a standing ovation.
Ada Koene liked what she heard.
“I thought it was very strong,” she said. “I think he had it right to try to unite the two parties. I’m getting very sick of them fighting.”
Koene said she found the speech to be one that both sides could support and come together.
“I liked everything and so did the other people,” she said. “You can see they were all standing.”
Montgomery Yuri said the speech was every bit as good, perhaps even better, as ones delivered by Ronald Reagan, the country’s 40th president who was known for his oratory skills.
“I loved that he stressed that America is a sovereign nation and what makes it a sovereign nation is secure borders,” he said.
Yuri said he served in the European military and protected borders in the 1970s, so he understands how important strong borders are to a country.
“He hit everything right on point,” he said. “He pointed out women in power, 58 percent. How many women realize that?
“This is history in the making,” Yuri added.
Steve Yoder, chair of the Republican Party of Kauai, said Trump did a good job talking about many issues, including calling for unity, which seemed to earn the support of Democrats in Congress, as they even applauded at times.
“He’s doing his best to unite. He’s doing everything a president should to negotiate,” Yoder said.
“I don’t think it’s build a wall,” he added. “I think we should finish a wall. Obama put up fences. So did Clinton, so did Bush. Because it’s Trump, they don’t want to do it. The man wants to secure our country.”