HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Much has been said and written about the divide in the country when it comes to the impeachment of President Trump.
It’s not much different locally.
A Mason-Dixon poll released on Wednesday shows that in the Tampa Bay area, 47 percent support impeaching the president, while 48 percent are opposed.
That’s much different than in 1998, when the country was strongly against impeaching Bill Clinton.
A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll taken immediately after the House approved two articles of impeachment against Clinton showed that 63 percent opposed impeachment, and only 35 percent supported it.
Then again, that issue was easier to understand: President Clinton acknowledged that he lied to a grand jury regarding his relationship with a White House intern. Many Democrats scorned his personal behavior, but said it didn’t rise to the level of impeachment. Republicans disagreed, saying it was about the rule of law.
In the case of whether President Trump threatened to delay foreign aid to Ukraine unless they dug up dirt on a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, political partisans don’t appear to be in the same universe when describing what happened and if it was inappropriate or not.
Spectrum Bay News 9 reached out Thursday to the respective chairs of the Hillsborough County Republican and Democratic parties for their thoughts.
Sounding like many congressional Democrats, Ione Townsend, the chair of the Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee, said that the party took “no joy” in seeing the House of Representatives approve two articles of impeachment on Wednesday night.
“We applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for living up to their oath of office to defend the Constitution of the United States and to act as a co-equal branch of government,” Townsend said. “It was their obligation to call foul on the President for his obstruction of Congress and for abuse of the power of his office putting our national security at risk. It is their solemn duty to defend the Constitution of the United States to protect our democracy as the framers intended. We take no joy in the impeachment, but know there was no option but to hold our President accountable for his misdeeds.”
Hillsborough County Republican Executive Chairman Jim Waurishuk blasted the impeachment vote, saying that any member of Congress who did so “is showing how deeply they revile the voters and how truly they detest America’s Constitutional order.”
"The President’s actions and decisions with regard to Ukraine or any other country where the U.S. is providing aid and assistance is always on based conditions, actions, and agreements contingent with U.S. policy,” Waurishuk wrote to Spectrum Bay News 9 in a statement. “Just as any business transaction between two parties requires due diligence, President Trump, will always put the best interest of this nation and the American people first. Everyone must understand too, that there’s no such thing as quid-pro-quo in foreign policy -- and it is the President of this country who is the final decision maker and arbiter on such matters.”
Earlier this week, Trump wrote a scathing letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, where he wrote that she had “developed a full-fledged case of what many in the media call Trump Derangement Syndrome, and sadly, you will never get over it!”
While Democrats and various commentators blasted the letter, Waurishuk said for his money, it was “spot on.”
“In fact, it’s only the first step in expressing how supporters of the President feel about this situation and how those who don’t support this President have nurtured their distain through irrational hatred. This impeachment hoax -- and the fact that it’s being assisted by supposed men and women of scholarly pursuits -- is perhaps one of the last nails in their party’s coffin.”
He went on to add that the greatest consequence of the pursuit of bringing down Trump “will be the complete and utter destruction of the current Democrat Party.”