Say, just for argument’s sake, that GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump somehow turns into that creature he so reviles — a loser, at least in the presidential race. If, instead of moving into the White House, he has to go right on living in his heavily Democratic, highly diverse hometown, will his fellow New Yorkers take him back?
Early indications are that the bombastic billionaire will eat lunch in NYC again, but it may be at the Trump Grill with the cast of “Duck Dynasty,” because the political, social, entertainment and media elite have some concerns.
The mogul from Jamaica, Queens, has never truly been embraced by the city’s elite. But Trump’s latest suggestion to ban all Muslims from entering the United States “until we figure out what the hell is going on,” seems to have been the breaking point for leaders in New York, which is home to more than 3 million immigrants. And the response to Trump’s increasingly ugly presidential bid has evolved from polite silence to “stop the bullsh*t.”
Simmons called Trump an “amazing friend” of more than 30 years, but said he couldn’t disagree with people who were comparing him to Adolf Hitler. “Stop fueling fires of hate,” Simmons wrote.
On the same day Simmons went public with his letter, members of the New York City Council held a rally on the steps of City Hall with a similar message.
“There is nothing left to say about Donald Trump except he is a disgusting, racist demagogue who has no business running for president period,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to be speaker of the New York City Council. She called his temporary Muslim ban “xenophobic, racist and Islamophobic.”
Robert Zimmerman, a longtime Democratic fundraiser in New York, said Trump had always been considered a “hustler and a self-promoter” by power players in New York. But now he may have made himself something worse in Trumpland: Irrelevant.
“Trump has always tried very hard to be close to anybody in power. He gives to both sides, he tries to look important to both sides,” Zimmerman said. “But just because people take your checks doesn’t mean they take you seriously. Now he has reduced himself to a point he may not even be able to buy his way back in.”
In fairness, much of the toughest criticism of Trump last week came from Democrats. So what are his fellow Republicans saying?
Carl Paladino, the GOP nominee for governor in 2010, is so pro-Trump he’s floated himself to be Trump’s vice president. But Joe Lhota, the Republican nominee for New York mayor in 2013, called for Republicans to kick Trump out of the party. “He doesn’t have a First Amendment right to be a Republican,” Lhota told Errol Lewis on New York 1 on Dec. 8. “Republicans ought to take a stand.”
Although Trump isn’t named directly, Kathryn Wylde, the president of the partnership, told the Times the ad was meant “to respond to the climate of fear in the country that some candidates are tapping into.”
But of all of the backlash Trump has gotten in New York in recent days, the most withering may have come from The New York Daily News, the newspaper owned by Mort Zuckerman, whom Trump in the past has called a “dopey clown.” (Of course.) Under the headline “Shame of a Nation,” an editorial cartoon showed Trump beheading the Statue of Liberty.
The iconic sculpture has greeted immigrants to the city, and the country, with a message of hope and healing for more than a century. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free …”
But after a campaign in which Trump has insulted women, Mexicans, veterans, refugees and now Muslims, it is easy to imagine graffiti on the Statue of Liberty tweaking New York’s offer to the world just a little: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free … but would you mind taking Donald Trump off our hands?”
Patricia Murphy is a former Capitol Hill staffer who covers national politics for The Daily Beast.
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