Tony and Michelle Ripepi always make sure their children are civically engaged, from following local and national elections to watching big decisions, speeches and moments coming from the White House. These people are blue-collar voters who support Trump.
“We make it a point to discuss current events so that they are aware of what is going on in the world, so for us watching the State of the Union Address given by any president is a family affair,” Michelle said.
Tuesday evening was no different as the couple sat in their Pennsylvania living room with their children Lillie, Natalie, Tony and John.
One constant theme throughout President Trump’s speech, in particular for the kids, was the decision by Democrats not to stand and applaud, especially on issues like border security or historic low unemployment rates or some of the more emotional personal stories the president highlighted.
“I just wonder if they thought this through past their politics, on many of these things all of America is applauding while they are sitting,” said 14-year-old Natalie.
Lillie, 15, a blue-collar voters and a freshman at Peters Township HS, was particularly interested in the president’s focus on immigration, in particular DACA.
“I do believe that the DACA kids should be allowed to stay here,” said Lillie, who just completed a school paper on DACA. “It is the only home they have known, but I also think they should they should go through the legal process to become citizens.”
On the wall, she was adamant, “Build it.”
“I was happy with what he said about the criteria that Dreamers had to meet to become citizens, like education, good morals,” she said.
Both Tony, 54, and Michelle, 41, voted for Trump is 2016. Tony is a grandson of immigrants and a highly regarded chief of surgery at a suburban Pittsburgh hospital. Michelle went to Carnegie Mellon University, is a breast cancer survivor and director of operations at the Ripepi home, driving the kids to tennis, piano, and hockey games and practices while also helping with her husband’s practice.