Saturday 24 February 2018

Most Americans just want it to be over

The Naked Cowboy entertaining crowds outside Trump Tower in New York City Picture: Caroline Quinn
The Naked Cowboy entertaining crowds outside Trump Tower in New York City Picture: Caroline Quinn

Kevin Doyle in New York

America is full of dreamers. There are those who believe that things can only get better, and there are others who think a nightmare lies ahead.

People are focused on the change that is coming but nobody seems to know what it is.

For months now they have watched the warped sitcom of Trump versus Clinton, amused and bemused. Yet as election day approaches in New York, there's very little sign that history, in some form, is about to be made.

On the eighth floor of a fairly standard office block in Brooklyn Heights, the final touches are being put to Hillary Clinton's campaign. It's all about swing states now. Places like North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

So much so that the 800 or so recruits who were based at 1 Pierrepoint Plaza have mostly decamped to the campaign trail.

It's fair to say that the most exciting thing about what is supposed to be the nerve centre of the Clinton campaign is the constant flow of pizzas arriving for volunteers who are manning phones and Facebook from bean bags.

Hillary herself hasn't been in the building since May.

On Fifth Avenue, the only sign that anything is out of the ordinary at Trump Tower is the presence of two NYPD cars outside, and the Naked Cowboy who has relocated from Times Square to show his support.

Starbucks on the second floor has a countdown clock - it's four days until they start selling Christmas cappuccinos.

In an uptown bar called 'The Late Late', President Obama's cousin from Moneygall, Co Offaly, Henry Healy, is playing 'Super Mario' on a clapped-out Nintendo.

At 'The Mean Fiddler' near Broadway, a young Fine Gaeler asks for one of a dozen TVs to be switched over from college football to CNN after hearing that there's been a security alert at Trump rally in Nevada.

The barman suspiciously obliges for all of 30 seconds before turning back.

Jason Husted holds his baby daughter Rhett at a Trump rally in Sioux City, Iowa. Photo: Chip
Jason Husted holds his baby daughter Rhett at a Trump rally in Sioux City, Iowa. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"That's bullshit," he says, "probably all staged."

That's the mood. America can't wait for tomorrow to be over so they can get on with whatever 'change' brings.

Those that are emotionally involved, though, believe the race has plenty to run.

Around 50,000 people from more than 120 countries, including Ireland, pounded New York's pavements for 26.2 miles yesterday.

At the same time on a street corner in Northern Manhattan, a group of around 30 Latino men and women were stretching their vocal chords before getting on a bus to Philadelphia to knock on 3,000 doors.

Their message: Only Hillary can stop Donald.

The most colourful of the bunch is Raphael Dejesus in his orange suit and 'Hillary is my homegirl' T-shirt.

"Donald Trump is very dangerous for the United States because he has ideas like Hitler," he says before another chant of "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary" breaks out.

The group spends over an hour delivering the wake-up call to anyone within earshot before eventually hitting the road.

District Leader Manny De Los Santos enthuses that with just hours to go there are votes to be won.

"Her vision is progressive. This is someone that has been waiting for her to really expose what she's capable of for the country.

"Beyond her just being a woman. It's time a woman gets the opportunity to lead the nation," he said.

But perhaps more importantly, the father-of-one adds: "No matter what, she's better than Trump. We don't want someone who is divisive, who is anti-immigrant, who doesn't have any foreign policy experiences.

"He's a businessman and even as a businessman he's not a genius."

But for many Republicans that doesn't matter. Ryan Girdusky, who has worked on political campaigns for 10 years including with former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, reckons Trump has "the greatest message any Republican has ever had".

"I've been dreaming of a Republican candidate who spoke like he did on these issues. I really have," he said.

"When they ask him 'what are you going to do for the children of illegal immigrants', he says 'I want American children to dream, I care more about them than I care about the children of illegal immigrants'," he said.

At the same time, he compares Trump's "recklessness" to Carl Paladino, a billionaire who ran for Governor of New York in 2010 only to be derailed by the leaking of a series of racist and sexually explicit emails, questions about extramarital affairs and anti-gay remarks.

"He never had a moment like Trump did with Kellyanne Conway of just sobering up a little more," Girdusky said. "Trump's biggest issue is it's all personality. If Trump had the sensibility or public demeanour that Mitt Romney had with the issues, we'd be walking away with this election."

The 29-year-old says he'll "fight" for Trump's ideas beyond the election result.

"At times his personality does make me a little nauseous, but his ideas, the policies he's promoting - win, lose or draw I will be fighting for those policies on November 10," he said.

Like Clinton, Trump is touring the battleground states into the final hours, with supporters boasting of renewed hope in the wake of the FBI email investigation.

Both have spent $1m on TV adverts in Colorado alone in the past week, showing that regardless of what the polls say, both believe the race is far from run.

Tomorrow night it ends. Hillary Clinton has booked the Jacob K Javits Convention Centre in Manhattan for her after party. Appropriately enough, it has a glass ceiling. There are rumours too that she has paid for fireworks over the Hudson.

Donald Trump will be in the Hilton in Midtown - but many believe that his will be the speech to watch regardless of the outcome.

"It hasn't made us look good to the rest of the world," says Alexandra Nigolian, First Vice Chair of the Manhattan Republican Party.

"But no matter what happens America will still be in a better place than a lot of the world. Even if it's Hillary."

One more sleep and the world will know.

Irish Independent

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