Joe Pontillo and his wife, Robyn Fuentes, said they love Donald Trump and his policies and wanted to help promote them.
So the Pocatello couple started a business in May 2020 called Pocatello Patriot and both took off their jobs together — Pontillo’s a welder and Fuentes is a massage therapist — to spread the word around Idaho.
“We hadn’t seen a Trump flag in town so we’re like ‘we both love the president’ so we took off our jobs for the summer to do this,” Pontillo said.
Thus they attended the recent fireworks show in Lava Hot Springs as one of their stops to spread the word. They also sold Trump banners and hats and other items, even as they observed social distancing.
The hats are $25 each and the flags are $20, Pontillo said. They also offer socks and key chains.
Pontillo said it was fun to be in Lava and talk to people at the event and see everyone gathered for the fireworks.
“Everybody’s in a really good mood, everybody loves America. Everybody’s celebrating the birth of America,” he said. “It’s awesome.”
Pontillo says they plan to run the business through the election.
So they’ll attend events of all sorts — rodeos, the POW*MIA event, Chubbuck Days and others.
They were in Inkom recently. And they plan to be in Idaho Falls for a week.
Plus they were set up recently in a tent in the parking lot near AutoZone in front of Fred Meyer in Pocatello.
“Were trying to get in all the area,” Pontillo said.
But he says they did catch some criticism at the AutoZone site. Some motorists would swear at them and about Trump as they drove by.
Pontillo, however, says he’s just interested in having a civil conversation and invites anyone to chat.
“If they want to stop and have a discussion that would be great,” he said. “Maybe I can change my mind about something, maybe they can change their mind about something. Maybe we can meet in the middle and that will help stop the division all the time.”
He says that in the end Americans are on the same team.
“You can disagree with me and not be my enemy,” he said. “You know we all want the best for our kids and the best for the country. We just have different ways of getting there.”
He says if everyone talks more they can start to find ways to compromise and that’s what the country’s built on.
Fuentes says she expected a little more dialogue at the AutoZone site. But Idaho State University was not in session so that may have limited the number of people they saw at that location.
Pontillo said they did have one person stop at the site for what turned into about a 30-minute chat.
“We disagreed about a lot of things but at the end of the day you know he bought a hat and he left and he was like, ‘You know, I’m glad we had this conversation,’” Pontillo said.
He said he would love to have talks with people about why they like Joe Biden for president rather than Trump.
“You don’t even have to buy a hat,” Pontillo said. “I just like having people who disagree come and have a civil conversation.”
He would particularly enjoy talking about policies.
“Like I think the policies that Donald Trump is putting forward are the best for the country — what do you think,” Pontillo said. “And I would love to know. That would be great.”
He says they are libertarians and want everybody to have a happy life.
And when the election is over, they plan to return to work after being buoyed by their reception from state residents.
“We’ve had really good support in Idaho,” he said.