Conservative street artist Sabo, a longtime supporter of Sen. Ted Cruz, told CNN last week that after months of refusing to back the Republican presidential nominee, and initially vowing to “write in Cruz,” he will now be voting for Donald Trump.
Over the last few months, Sabo has gradually budged from #NeverTrump, to riding the Trump train “for the day” in an anti-Clinton art project, to maybe Trump and then finally, to a cautious Trump voter.
The artist’s journey echoes Cruz’s own difficult process in coming to terms with Trump, where the Texas senator gradually went from denouncing Trump, to endorsing him “after many months of careful consideration.”
“In the past year I wrote Trump off as a shill for Hillary (Clinton). What seemed like his constant self-destructive approach helped to support this thought. What helped to break this idea for me, what finally won me over, was watching how hard he’s been kicking Hillary, Bill, and the media in the teeth,” the staunchly conservative artist told CNN in an email Friday.
Sabo’s art has taken the streets of Los Angeles by storm for years during the 2016 campaign, infuriating and often shocking residents of the largely progressive city.
The Louisiana native’s art first gained national attention when Sabo depicted Texas politician Wendy Davis as “abortion Barbie” and later, for portraying Ted Cruz as a tattooed, cigarette-smoking bad boy, who was “blacklisted” by the Washington establishment – an image that has become iconic during the 2016 election.
Sabo was called racist and homophobic by some, including those offended by his decision to use the N-word in his art, but he said he enjoys the diversity in Los Angeles and said that his artistic decisions do not make him a racist.
“I’m an artist. I take it upon myself to use every word at my disposal and that doesn’t make me a bigot,” Sabo said. “And if I do use that word in a very harsh way, I don’t use it any differently than Chris Rock did in the mid ‘80s.”
At first glance, the bombastic and far from politically correct artist, might seem like the artist embodiment of Trump. But Sabo said he is far from it because Trump is not a true conservative.
Sabo initially dismissed Trump as a “Democrat,” whose “self-destructive” behavior on the trail is going to guarantee Clinton the White House.
He told CNN in August that while a politically incorrect, anti-establishment message is something the Republican Party needed, he would have wanted a true conservative like Cruz to be the messenger.
Sabo lamented Cruz’s loss in the primary, hailed the Texas senator’s refusal to back Trump and vowed to “write in Cruz” in Election Day.
“I think (Trump) makes sense in a lot of things that he says, but you really, one of the biggest problems I have about Trump is he’s a man without a core,” Sabo said, “So you really don’t have much of an idea as to what he’s actually going to do.”
Amid backlash over Clinton saying that “half” of Trump’s supporters fit into the “basket of deplorables,” Sabo briefly took a trip on a Trump Train, making campaign swag with the label “The Deplorables” to defend Trump supporters.
“This design is doing well and no, I’m not on the Trump Train. I just got a day pass,” Sabo said.
After months of refusing to back the Republican nominee and following his combative speech at the Republican National Convention in July, where he urged conservatives to vote their “conscience,” Cruz endorsed Trump in September.
When asked about Cruz’s decision to back Trump, Sabo was beginning to have a change of heart but he was not ready to back Trump himself.
He said that this election is “a s— sandwich,” but conservatives like Cruz and himself “just have to sprinkle enough sugar on it to choke it down” because with the prospects of a Clinton presidency, “too much is at stake.”
Following the final presidential debate, Sabo said that he doesn’t know whether he will still write in Cruz on Election Day or bite the bullet – or in his case the “sandwich” – and vote for Trump.
“If by some miracle Trump needs my vote I’ll take a bit out of that s— sandwich and vote for him because I see Hillary is too big a threat to our democracy,” Sabo, who will be voting in California, said. “If he gets trounced along the way then I’ll write in Cruz as a protest vote,” he said.
Trump spent much of October defending himself against claims of sexual assault that surfaced following the release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” video, in which Trump is caught on a hot mic bragging about his ability to grope women because of his star power.
But he also unleashed on Bill Clinton, slamming the former President’s past sexual indiscretions, inviting Clinton accusers to the second presidential debate and accused the Democratic presidential nominee of bullying her husband’s accusers.
He also relentlessly attacked the Democratic presidential nominee over news that the FBI is looking into new emails related to her use of a personal server during her time as secretary of state.
“It no longer mattered that I didn’t see him as a true Republican or conservative. He was doing something with a force I’ve never seen any Republican do,” Sabo said. “That was enough for me.”