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Trump supporters react to his derogatory remark, in their own words

Story highlights
  • "He's disappointing me," one of Trump's supporters says
  • Others still support him, though they wish he would be more careful with his language

(CNN) Reports that Donald Trump referred to certain nations as "shithole countries" during a Thursday meeting in the Oval Office have inflamed his critics and drawn condemnation from the international community.

But how did it play with his supporters?

CNN spoke to several of them to see whether they still support the President after his comments. Here's what they had to say.

Gene DiFabio, Ohio

Geno DiFabio, a 54-year-old truck driver in Youngstown, Ohio, is a lifelong Democrat who voted for Trump in the 2016 election.

"From the limited accounts I've read and heard of the meeting, the President was presented with an intolerable proposal," DiFabio told CNN in a text message Friday.

DiFabio also pointed out that Trump has expressed his desire to have a "merit-based" immigration system that benefits the United States, and Thursday's proposal "certainly wasn't that."

"We are not talking about war refugees or people being persecuted in their countries," DiFabio said.

But ultimately, DiFabio doesn't believe the comment will hurt the President with his supporters.

"The language he reportedly used may make some cringe if true," he said, "but in the grand scheme ... it's not going to turn any supporter I know of from him."

Trump tweeted Friday that he didn't use that language in Thursday's meeting. He also denied that he demanded Haitians be excluded from negotiations about protected status for people from certain countries.

Danny Eapen, Oklahoma

When he first heard the news about Trump's comments, Danny Eapen said he was "a bit skeptical."

He pointed to Sen. Tom Cotton, who said he didn't remember Trump making the remarks in question.

But if it's true that the President said those things, 26-year-old Eapen said, "then it's just a shame."

"If it's true, then it's true," said Eapen, who is studying at a Bible college in Tulsa. "But at the same time, I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt."

Danny Eapen

At this point in Trump's presidency, Eapen is more concerned about the President's actions than he is about the President's words.

"So far, he's doing a good job in terms of the economy, foreign policy and so many things are changing and happening," Eapen told CNN.

When asked whether Trump still had his support, Eapen said, "100%."

Brian Welsh, South Carolina

Brian Welsh, 32, a business owner from South Carolina, told CNN he initially supported Trump because of his immigration policy, particularly regarding the border wall, which he believed could cut spending on border security.

But how did Welsh feel after the President's comments on Thursday?

"He really shouldn't talk about people that way," said Welsh, a registered Republican. "That's not nice. I stopped supporting him. He's let us down."

Welsh believes the United States should "help out other countries."

"I believed in him and his plan," Welsh said, "but he's disappointing me."

Wayne Liebnitzky, Florida

Wayne Liebnitzky, a Republican running for Florida's 9th Congressional District, said he believes the President's "shithole" comments were probably taken out of context.

"It's like if someone tells a joke, one person might take it one way while someone else might take it another (way)," said Liebnitzky on Friday. He was outside a political rally held by Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rossello in Kissimmee, Florida, with a life-size effigy of the President.

Wayne Liebnitzky in Kissimmee, Florida, on January 12, 2018.

"A lot of the things that are reported about him, whether bad or terrible, are probably taken out of context."

When told that a US senator who was in the room verified the reports of Trump's remarks, Liebnitzky said, "If he said it, well, then he said it."

Angie Galvez, California

"I still support my President," said Angie Galvez, a Mexican-American in Los Angeles.

However, Galvez does believe the President "should have more filters because he represents the United States."

"We want him to look more professional," she said.

Galvez also believed the President wasn't out of line for asking that Haitians be denied protective status.

"What has Haiti done for us?" Galvez asked. "What have they done to help themselves?"

Eric Johnson, Georgia

Eric Johnson

Eric Johnson from Woodstock, Georgia, "absolutely" still supports the President but admits Trump should be more sensitive and aware of how his comments make people feel.

"People will always forget about what you say, forget what you do, but never forget how you make them feel," Johnson said, paraphrasing author Maya Angelou.

But, Johnson said, Trump is his choice to "go out and fight and make changes."

"We said we needed a bulldog, someone who's going to fight for us, and he's our hired hand," Johnson told CNN. "It's kind of messy. He might make a mistake and hit the wrong person but I know ... he doesn't intend harm."

If the President wants to learn about the plight of immigrants he should talk to his wife, Johnson said. "How would she feel if you called her country that?"

CNN's Lyric Lewin, Tristan Smith, Nick Valencia and Kevin Conlon contributed to this report.