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Valley truck driver fuels Trump campaign

YOUNGSTOWN — Geno DiFabio said he was sitting in a downtown Youngstown restaurant the day President Donald Trump headlined a rally at the Covelli Centre when Washington, D.C., came up on his cell-phone’s caller ID.

DiFabio, who had appeared on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” program earlier in the day because of a contact he made at the network, said his friend Dan Madden, who was with him, said to pick it up because it might be the White House.

When DiFabio answered the call, a person said he was a White House employee and that the president wanted to meet him before the July 26, 2017, rally started. It took a while to convince DiFabio that it was legitimate.

While backstage, DiFabio said: “Trump comes out and said, ‘There’s Geno, my guy. I saw you on TV.’ He decided to spend time with me and we started talking. I said, ‘All these people are counting on you.'” He then said, ‘You want to go on the stage tonight?’ He’s the president. I couldn’t say no.”

Describing the experience, DiFabio – who wore a shirt that read, “Trump won – deal with it!” — said: “They talk about the fog of war and it happened to me. I just started talking and I didn’t hear anything. I could have stayed up there for 20 minutes. It’s up there with the greatest moment in my life.”

Before the Fox appearance and sharing the stage with Trump, DiFabio had some smaller brushes with fame doing interviews with Bloomberg News and ITV, a British TV network, about being a longtime Democrat who crossed party lines to vote for Trump in 2016.

Since the Trump visit, DiFabio, a truck driver for City Machine Technologies for the past 27 years, has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News — including about 12 appearances on “Fox & Friends” — and any other news organization that asks.

“Once you get into the Rolodex, you get called often,” he said. “But every time it’s exciting. I don’t sell Tshirts. I support the president and I represent Youngstown, Ohio, when I can.”

GREW DISENCHANTED

DiFabio said he came from a Democratic family, but grew disenchanted with the party over time and by 2016, he was initially backing U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, for president. That is, until he heard Trump for the first time.

“I never watched anything on TV about Trump,” DiFabio said. “I’d heard of Donald Trump, but I thought it was another odd billionaire running for president. But he said, ‘These trade deals are going to kill us and someone has to do something about it.’ He said, ‘We had to be smarter with our deals,’ and he started getting my attention. Then he got my support the more I heard from him.”

After being on more television and radio shows in support of Trump, DiFabio said he was driving his truck when Washington, D.C., came up on his phone’s caller ID.

“I figured either my car warranty was about to expire” — a common robocall pitch — “or it’s the White House,” he said. “The woman who called me said the vice president had tweeted out an interview I did and he wanted to meet me.”

DiFabio was among six people invited to talk with Vice President Mike Pence in Dale, Ind., outside Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home, about Trump’s accomplishments to be shown during the Republican National Convention.

The trip is 487 miles each way, DiFabio said, from his home. The campaign offered a flight, which would have included a couple of stops and then a 90-minute drive, or to rent a car for him and his wife, Michelle. They took the car and 7 ¢ hour drive.

DiFabio said he had to sign a nondisclosure agreement that he wouldn’t talk about the pre-recorded meeting though admits he told a few people.

The video aired Aug. 25.

“I talked about Lordstown and how (Trump) told (General Motors CEO) Mary Barra to do something with it,” DiFabio said.

Before taping, DiFabio said he spoke to Pence, who described working for Trump as “being dragged behind a speed boat without a raft.”

DiFabio described his time with Pence as “an exciting moment. I love the president. I’d go to war with him in a heartbeat and Mike Pence is as big an America-first guy as there is. But he can’t get the attention with Trump there. If Pence runs in 2024, he’s got my support.”

WHY TRUMP?

Why does DiFabio admire Trump so much?

“He does what he says he’s going to do,” he said. “Most politicians parse everything they say and they worry about the next election. His instincts have been pretty good. He hasn’t had to play the game the way politicians have played it and the press be damned. I don’t see how anyone can argue — he fights for the working man.”

DiFabio acknowledges that he sometimes wishes Trump wouldn’t say some things.

“But I understand the frustration,” he said. “There’s no line he can cross that would make me not support him. He’s unfiltered because he doesn’t care.”

As for DiFabio’s brushes with fame, he said, “It’s surreal. People I don’t know come to say hello. I’m not going to waste it and I’m not going to exploit it. If I can be a voice for this area, I will.”

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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