About 6:30 a.m., the Runions kept their habit of going to the gym. Emma wore a hot-pink top. John, 65, a retired licensed electrician and union man, wore a T-shirt with an American flag on it. They rode to the gym in John’s brown Ford truck. At the gym, Emma made no apologies for trying to persuade her fellow gymgoers to vote Republican. “I worked on Dan for six months,” she said of the man on the elliptical trainer next to her. She used the Internet to look up their voter registrations.
A hulking man at a weight machine saw Emma and shook his head. “I can’t understand where this country’s going,” he said.
“Keep your chin up,” she said.
Back home — they retired to Valrico, Fla., east of Tampa, in 2008 — Emma put on her apron and sprayed a skillet with Pam for scrambled eggs. John looked at the newspaper for the Cryptoquote puzzles he likes. Emma pulled open her pantry. “We are not preppers,” she said, revealing a normal food closet instead of one preparing for anarchy. Canned pears. Canned pumpkin. Sugar. Peanut butter. Dog treats. There was no survival food, but they were planning on stocking up on guns and ammo.
“We’ll probably get a long gun and a short gun,” Emma said. “We’ve already got our concealed carry permits; we just need to be fingerprinted.” That last step was the one that made her hesitant. “Once you are registered, they know who you are. Most firearms now are chipped” for tracking.
They worried that Obama would now downsize the military — “MacDill is going to be a ghost town,” Emma said of the Air Force base in Tampa — to build his own military consisting of the National Guard, the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.