19 April 2016

New Yorkers Are Expected to Rally For Donald Trump

NY Supports Trump
Do you know what a New York lawyer, a business owner who calls himself a left-leaning Republican and a construction worker who elected Barack Obama have in common? They're all voting for Donald Trump.

None of them live on the breadline. They share surprisingly varied opinions. Yet they are profoundly frustrated - with the economy, with career politicians and with perceptions of declining American prestige.

The Republican frontrunner's supporters are often portrayed as undereducated, underearning whites.

But in upstate New York, where Trump calls himself "the most popular person that's ever lived," the breadth of support spotlights his enduring appeal, albeit as the Republican elites plot to bring him down.

The most divisive presidential campaign in a generation hits New York on 19 April.

"I don't think he's the Hitler everyone puts him out to be, I really truly don't and as a New Yorker I grew up with the guy," says Lloyd Knecht, 59, who owns a heating and air conditioning company that employs 30 people.

Knecht works in Binghamton, one of the fastest-shrinking towns in America and a pale imitation of an illustrious past where IBM was founded more than a century ago and where the flight simulator was invented.

The gradual departure of IBM and other manufacturing corporations, taking jobs and technology overseas, has left behind unemployment above the US average and a poverty rate higher than the state average.

Knecht worries about rising insurance and wage bills, though he believes in "some sort of national health plan." He fears the economy is becoming sluggish. He supported Obama's decriminalization of petty drug crimes.

Trump's populist message promising to bring back jobs and restore national pride with his say-it-how-it-is manner strike a deep chord in an area that has long felt forgotten by state and federal politicians.

Ahead of next week's crucial primary Trump leads the Republican polls in New York state on 53.4 percent to Ohio Governor John Kasich's 21.7 percent and Texas Senator Ted Cruz's 17.6 percent, according to a RealClearPolitics average.

Christopher Love, a union member who has lived in the area 42 years and works in construction, says Binghamton has gone from "valley of opportunity" to a "ghost town" where young people either leave or get hooked on heroin.

Trump, a billionaire real-estate mogul and reality television star, is the only candidate talking about issues that matter to him, says Love.

"We've got to do something different. What we've been doing the last 30 years isn't working," he told AFP, wearing a Trump 2016 trucker hat. His octogenarian father-in-law, who described Democrat John F. Kennedy as the best US president in his lifetime, is also supporting Trump.