We asked 8 Donald Trump supporters why his nomination would make America great again

Around 20,000 supporters trekked to the warehouse in Long Island, and some of them failed to even get a glimpse of the business mogul

 

Rachael Revesz
New York
Thursday 07 April 2016 14:05
Comments
Supporters were quick to defend Mr Trump from criticism
Supporters were quick to defend Mr Trump from criticism

Donald Trump was born in Queens. And when he turned up to his first rally in New York, he liberally praised “his people” – the 20,000 supporters that had trekked to a rural warehouse outside of Bethpage, Long Island, to hear him speak – and vigorously defended “New York values”.

Yet not everyone who came got to see the man himself. Most of the action in fact, took place long before Mr Trump came on stage.

As a long line of people waited for the shuttle bus to the venue, one man called Sam, 27, stood on top of his parked car, holding up a large sign: “You are all morons.”

The line jeered and shouted at him.

“They keep telling me to get a job,” he said. “But they’re here, just like me.”

(Rachael Revesz / The Independent

Six young students crowded into a taxi, and they were all excited.

Sal, the 57-year-old taxi driver, was equally pleased to see them. “I like Trump,” he smiled in the mirror. “I’ll get you there, don’t worry.”

Paul, a 21-year-old business student at State University of New York, was complaining in the back seat that “Bernie Sanders supporters” want free college education.

“Well how about they sign up for the military first?” he grumbled.

Christopher Ryan, 22, a union plumber, chipped in that Mr Sanders would “upset the balance” by lowering taxes on the rich.

“We’ve had over 200 years of capitalism. It was thriving, and it can thrive again.”

Mr Ryan’s main reason for voting Trump, however, was foreign policy. He criticised the “ridiculous” trade deals with Iran and Mexico.

“It’s 2016 and people are laughing at the United States,” he said.

As we climbed out the taxi, miles away from the train station and in the middle of a large industrial estate, another friend in the group, 21-year-old medical office worker Jim Basek, added that for him the main appeal was “the whole outsider factor” as Mr Trump declares his campaign is self-funded and he is not part of the establishment.

Jim Basek, Christopher Ryan, Alison Kappen 

He may be self-funded, but he was still beaten in the key state of Wisconsin by Texas Senator Ted Cruz. 36-year-old nurse Alison Kappen, was not so sure of Mr Trump.

“I used to support him, in the beginning,” she said. “But I think he’s dangerous.”

But almost everyone in the line that The Independent spoke to was quick to defend Mr Trump, whether it was about his multiple bankruptcies – “Mitt Romney and Al Gore went bankrupt too” – his comments about women – “he gets misinterpreted” – and his rambling about using marble and the finest material in his hotels – “he’s showing you can have great quality”.

“If the rich pay so much tax they are poor just like everyone else, and everyone’s on the same rate, then we’re just back where we started,” said one man who didn’t want to be named.

But what about the presidential candidate’s remarks that women should be “punished” for getting an abortion?

37-year-old saleswoman Donna Ehresman said: “He gets misinterpreted a lot, he shoots from the hip. Politics is a man’s world. Whether it should be or not, that’s the reality.”

“He’s an idiot,” she added. “But what’s the alternative?”

Supporters ranged from the articulate and committed to the faithful and determined.

The Independent approached a group of three orthodox Jewish men. One of them, who said he was the Republican leader of the New York 48th Assembly District, simply said: “Trump will make America great again.”

But what about the comparisons that Hillary Clinton made with the US banning Jewish immigrants after the Holocaust and Mr Trump wanting to ban Muslims now? Was that not worrying to them?

“You’ve offended me!” shouted his younger companion, striding ahead. “How dare you compare those things!”

Hundreds of supporters were then funnelled into a dense and crowded warehouse, clogging up before the security screens. Not everyone was getting through and tensions were rising.

“Let us in! Let us in!” a man with a ponytail led the chant which grew louder and louder. Several men with tattoos and tight t-shirts looked perplexed when the same man started to shout “F*** Trump! He’ can’t even organise a rally. You’re not even in!” And a few minutes later, “Bernie! Bernie!”

He was indeed a Bernie Sanders supporter.

The large sky-high doors behind us were dragged shut, and a look of concern came across my neighbour’s face.

“That’s freaky,” the woman said, hugging her white jacket around her. “We can’t get in and we can’t get out.”

The room grew hot while the doors were shut. Some lifted their children onto their shoulders. Others tried to livestream Mr Trumps’s speech on their mobile phones.

Men shouted out phrases which built to a fever pitch. Among them, “USA!”, “Build that wall!” and the most common refrain - “Asshole!” - towards protesters, despite all the children and families around them.

Mr Trump came and went, bashing Ted Cruz, promising to build the wall, and lulling the crowds to silence with his favourite 1960s song about a poisonous snake, referring to illegal immigrants.

He said he often flew to Bethpage at 2am for a round of golf. He said he loved Queens. He praised the “incredible bravery” of “our everybody” in New York during 9/11.

But long before he had stopped speaking, his audience was pouring out the door. Young and old, mostly white – the majority of black people at the event were the security staff, the police and the bus drivers - some hobbling with walking sticks, another carried out on a stretcher, all the while around 100 loyal fans were stuck just outside of the security gates.

“I’ve been here since 4.40!” one man cried out in frustration. It was now after 8pm. Many had failed to even get a glimpse of the businessman.

But they were undeterred in their devotion.

Anne Moyer, 41, a teacher, was holding a “New York Women For Trump” sign.

“My family and my friends and everyone I know all love Trump,” she gushed. “He loves law enforcement and he wants to take care of our vets. He also wants to bring jobs back to this country.”

After the bright lights, the loud pop music, the thunderous applause and the hours of screaming of love and abuse, the shuttle bus back to Bethpage train station was quiet, much like the calm that comes after a full, exciting day on a school trip.

“It’s funny how everyone gets quiet when the lights go out,” said one teenager with braces on the phone to his mother.

Huddled together on a cold night at Bethpage train station, two blonde women in parka jackets were giggling over their photos of the ever present “Bernie Sanders” protesters.

“I said to them I was raising money for my friend’s pregnancy and they didn’t give me any. I told them, don’t you support a women’s right to choose?” one of them laughed.

Mr Trump took his helicopter back to his Trump Towers, yet his supporters would be waiting a lot longer on the platform to get home. They didn't seem to mind.

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