American ships lobbed missiles at the Al Shayrat airfield in Syria Thursday. The Trump administration says the launch comes in response to a chemical weapon attack earlier this week that killed 80 in the troubled nation.
The next morning, 7,000 miles away, Trump supporter Mike Simpfenderfer sat at his dining room table, on the phone with KPCC's Take Two.
Simpfenderfer is the CEO of the political advocacy group, "Make California Great Again," and he's pleased about the president's decision to intervene in Syria.
What's your reaction to what happened last night?
I think it's very clear: the butchers and bullies of the world, they need to take notice. And they need to take a very clear view of the fact that this president will make tough decisions and not literally debate it to death.
The fact is, the U.S. has killed many civilians with drone strikes since the war on terror began. Can the U.S. really claim a moral high ground here or is this more of a PR move for the president?
It's clearly a moral high ground. You gotta take a look at how many times have a dictator and a butcher gassed their own people. That's a very small club that should not ever grow again. And a very small organization of dictators that should not be allowed to stay in power.
President Trump took action within days. Before, we debated it for months and years and got nothing except the butcher was empowered more and more. His friends, the Russians, did nothing to rein him in. The Russians are now on notice.
But Mike, Trump has tweeted that we should stay out of Syria. Yet, one of the first things he does is issue air strikes on Syria. How do you square the two sentiments?
It's actually very easy. A lot of our enemies thought President Trump would view the world through a rear-view mirror. They've now learned that's not his view of the world.
When people cross the line like these butchers did, and they gas children and women and men, I'm sorry, the line's crossed. It's not the time to do endless debate. It's time to take action, and now the Russian allies know we're not afraid to take action.
Some Trump supporters are pointing out this isn't in line with the "America First" message that the president ran on. They voted hoping he could improve their lives and bring back jobs. How does this help with that?
If you go about a worldview with blinders on, you're going to have the problem on your doorstep and back yard. That will do nothing to help the economy. What he's made clear is he's going to take care of America first. And when you have butchers and bullies? He's going to take action.
I think the more interesting part is what's going to go on as the Chinese leadership goes out to play golf with President Trump. They now have a very clear message to take back to China and give to the North Koreans: this man follows through. He's not to be messed with.
There are those who would point out that President Trump has been quick to do two things since he took office: ban Syrian refugees and bomb Syria. What's your response to someone who might say, "If Trump is really concerned about the safety of Syrians, why has he closed the door to them?"
The vetting process of bringing people in from Syria is nonexistent. You have no way to vet who is that person sitting in front of you. He made that clear on the campaign trail, and people concurred.
Looking globally: Russia has significant ties to the Syrian government under Bashir Al Assad. Some of them financial. If this escalates, it will require more attention from the president. Again, are you concerned that this could get in the way of Trump keeping his promises to voters?
No, it's actually keeping those promises. Because he took the action that he did — and he took it swiftly, firmly and with the support of others in our government — Russians now know, "Hold it, we can't go on with America having blinders on. America does not have blinders on anymore and America will take action when necessary."
To protect the financial interests that they have going on in Syria, they're going to have to make sure that butcher behaves or their financial interests are at risk.
Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.
(Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.)