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Thread: Donald Trump’s Tampa Office Is an Unlikely Melting Pot

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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Heart of Dixie

    Donald Trump’s Tampa Office Is an Unlikely Melting Pot

    Donald Trump’s Tampa Office Is an Unlikely Melting Pot

    MARCH 13, 2016

    Mireya Linsky, a Cuban-born supporter of Donald J. Trump. She said that illegal immigration was one of her chief concerns. CreditHilary Swift for The New York Times

    TAMPA — Get live updates about the Florida primary.

    Mireya Linsky, born to a Jewish family in Cuba, came to the United States as a refugee at age 5. Her family lived in public housing here for several years and sometimes relied on assistance from Catholic Charities. She has spent the past 33 years working for the Hillsborough County School District.

    So Mrs. Linsky, 55, understands that some may see certain contradictions in the fact that she is now spending several nights a week volunteering here at Donald J. Trump’s campaign office. “Like I’m just pulling the drawbridge up behind me,” she says.

    Yet Mrs. Linsky is also quick to acknowledge a long list of racial fears and resentments that she says help explain why she is drawn to Mr. Trump: She is furious at undocumented workers who “come basically to see what they can get.” She is wary of Muslim Americans imposing their religion on communities in the United States. She is fearful of more American jobs being outsourced to China, India or Mexico. She even suspects President Obama “has a dislike for white folks.”

    “We’re not taking care of our own,” she said.

    Recently, Mr. Trump’s campaign has been engulfed by ugly images of mostly white Trump supporters facing off against, and sometimes attacking, young protesters, many of them black or Hispanic, at Trump rallies in Chicago, St. Louis and elsewhere.

    But here in Tampa, in the week before the pivotal Florida primary, conversations with more than 20 volunteers showing up to make campaign calls or otherwise help out at a small Trump campaign office in an old cigar factory yielded some surprises on the subjects of race, ethnicity and bigotry.

    For a campaign frequently depicted as offering a rallying point for the white working class, the people volunteering to help Mr. Trump here are noteworthy for their ethnic diversity. They include a young woman who recently arrived from Peru; an immigrant from the Philippines; a 70-year-old Lakota Indian; a teenage son of Russian immigrants; a Mexican-American.
    They range the political spectrum, too, from lifelong Democrat to independent to libertarian to conservative Republican. To a person, they condemned and sometimes ridiculed David Duke and other white supremacists who have noisily backed Mr. Trump. “I totally do not agree with them,” said one volunteer, Andrew Cherry.

    Yet like Mrs. Linsky, many spoke openly about how fears centered on race and ethnicity were at the heart of their support for Mr. Trump. To a large extent, they traced those fears to the scars they still bear from the Great Recession — lost jobs, drained 401(k)’s, home foreclosures, rising debt, the feeling that the country is broken.

    More than anything, several Trump volunteers here said, the Great Recession exposed a corrupt, out-of-touch ruling class in Washington that allows big corporations to outsource jobs at will while doing nothing to address millions of illegal immigrants who compete for jobs and drain government coffers. In Mr. Trump, they say, they see a potential antidote to all of this. A man too wealthy to be bought or co-opted. A man with the blunt-force clarity to declare that he is ready to Make America Great Again.

    “I think we’ve come to the conclusion that our country is falling apart, and we have to take care of it,” Mrs. Linsky said.
    It would be hard to imagine more politically unfriendly turf for a Trump campaign office than the old Garcia and Vega cigar factory on Armenia Avenue. The factory looms over West Tampa, a Democratic stronghold long dominated by Latinos, especially Cuban-Americans. Today, the factory has been converted into space for start-ups. The campaign rents a small room on the second floor and uses a common area for its phone banks.

    Early on Wednesday afternoon, Bob Peele, 62, pulled up to the back of the cigar factory in a pickup truck overflowing with Trump campaign signs. Mr. Peele, burly and bearded, wearing a Harley-Davidson hat and a T-shirt depicting a bald eagle, began unloading signs.

    Just then, Annette Lux, 62, and Sharon Wollen, 70, pulled up in a small Chevy. They had driven nearly 20 miles from their senior community in Valrico in hopes of getting a sign, a T-shirt, a bumper sticker — anything to show support for Mr. Trump. Through the car window, Mrs. Lux, a lifelong Democrat, launched into a tirade against Hillary Clinton, accusing her of always pandering to African-American or Hispanic voters. “When do you ever say you need the white person’s vote?” she called out to Mr. Peele. She quickly added, “I’m not racist or anything.”

    The women got out of the car and headed to the Trump campaign office. Mrs. Lux, walking with a cane, and Mrs. Wollen, tiny and frail, explained that everywhere they looked, they saw evidence of a diminished nation, one so hobbled it cannot give decent health care to many veterans. “They even got rid of our space program,” Mrs. Lux said.

    Their circumstances have been diminished, too. Mrs. Lux ekes out a living at a check-cashing store; Mrs. Wollen lost her state job working for Florida’s toll system. “Now I’m working retail, and I’m starving,” she said.

    In Mr. Trump, they see someone at last willing to acknowledge the needs of the white working class. “I feel that we’re getting left out,” Mrs. Lux said. “There’s more than Black Lives Matter. What about us?”

    Mr. Peele was still unloading signs when Marcos Quevedo pulled up. He, too, wanted a Trump sign. Mr. Quevedo, 45, is the president of Sleepdreams Diagnostics, which also has office space in the cigar factory. The aftermath of the Great Recession cost Mr. Quevedo his managerial position with a sleep diagnosis company and contributed to the collapse of his marriage. “Corporate America got a little ruthless,” is how he puts it.

    Mr. Quevedo, a registered Democrat who was raised in West Tampa by parents who fled Cuba, says he is troubled by what he sees as thuggishness and racially charged language at Trump campaign rallies. But such is his frustration with both parties, and his desperation to shake up Washington, that he is willing to overlook the ugliness. “I’m turning my cheek to the David Duke comments,” he said.

    That evening, Trump volunteers began arriving for several hours of phone banking.

    Deloris Owens, 49, is one of the first to arrive. This is the first time she has volunteered for a political campaign. After 2008 she was laid off by Verizon, where she had worked as a call center supervisor. Then she and her husband lost their home in Brandon to foreclosure, as did many of their neighbors. Mrs. Owens, who describes herself as “in the middle” politically, said she voted for Mr. Obama in 2012.

    Emma Aquino, 51, arrives moments later with her own tale of 2008 woe. Her home in Utah, she said, lost 50 percent of its value, and when an accident left her unable to work, she risked losing the house altogether. The most her bank would do was reduce her interest rate, but only at the cost of extending her mortgage to 40 years from 20.

    To her, the mortgage meltdown perfectly encapsulates what she views as the corrupt bargain that rules the nation’s capital — politicians from both parties getting in bed with big corporations and their lobbyists to rig the game against average Americans. “The banks,” she says, her voice rising with indignation. “The government supported the banks.”

    As Mrs. Aquino talks about what she loves about Mr. Trump — how “he’s against lobbyists” and how he’s “not influenced by big corporations” — at first it sounds as if she might be talking about Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. But then she begins talking about a scourge of illegal immigrants. Mrs. Aquino stresses that when she arrived from the Philippines, she followed every rule, paid every fee. “I went through the process,” she said. She learned English, became a citizen and worked to “create my own American dream.”

    Mrs. Aquino brings up a court case she just read about. An Army captain, a Sikh, had sued the Defense Department, seeking the right to wear a turban and beard in adherence with his faith. “Adhere to American culture,” she says disapprovingly. “Adhere to American tradition.”

    Hours later, with the evening’s phone banking session over, the Trumpites trickle off into the warm Tampa evening. Among the last to leave are Andrew and Juliana Cherry, both 35, who together operate a small real estate firm in Clearwater Beach. Mrs. Cherry, who came to the United States a few years ago from Peru, still struggles with English, though she spends hours each day defending Mr. Trump on Twitter. Mr. Cherry describes himself as a political pragmatist who will vote for Mrs. Clinton if the Republican establishment denies Mr. Trump the nomination.

    Before 2008, Mr. Cherry made his living flipping property in Florida, in part using lessons he learned by taking a course from Trump University. The Great Recession wiped Mr. Cherry out. “I ended up owing more than $1 million,” he said. He wound up homeless, sleeping on his office couch for six months.

    The Cherrys, though quick to condemn all forms of racism, say Mr. Trump is fundamentally correct when he promises to refocus the federal government’s priorities on Americans’ needs.

    “If Trump doesn’t make the economy better,” Mr. Cherry said, “we’ll fire him in four years.”

    artist and Mayday like this.

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Dec 2015
    Mireya Linsky, born to a Jewish family in Cuba, came to the United States as a refugee at age 5.
    This is how a typical American (55 years old) may feel about what is going on in this country today.

    She is furious at undocumented workers who “come basically to see what they can get.” She is wary of Muslim Americans imposing their religion on communities in the United States. She is fearful of more American jobs being outsourced to China, India or Mexico. She even suspects President Obama “has a dislike for white folks.”
    She has some very strong and valid concerns that ten's of millions of other Americans share with her.
    artist and Mayday like this.

  3. #3
    Administrator ALIPAC's Avatar
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    Nov 2004
    Gheen, Minnesota, United States
    The only thing that makes any part of the Trump campaign an "unlikely melting pot" is the desire of the New York Times to keep people of other races from unifying with Trump and white Americans on issues of immigration and national security.

    Newmexican and Judy like this.
    Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

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