On N.Y. streets, Trump’s candidacy wins smiles, skepticism

By Kamila Czachorowski
Norridge, Ill.

NEW YORK — Donald Trump is against political correctness, has said the Mexican government is sending criminals and rapists to the United States, and lacks experience as an elected official. On Aug. 6, the day of the first Republican debate, 13 people on the High Line in New York answered questions about Trump. Given Trump’s reputation, their initial reactions were either a laugh or smile.

There was much discussion about why the businessman is at the top of the polls and whether he can even be considered a legitimate candidate. Four of the 13 people interviewed believed that Trump’s popularity is due to his charisma, candor and connections — qualities reflective of his background in the entertainment industry.

Henrik Knudsen, Mads Larson, Nikolaj Jensen, Jacob Friis, and Mathias Lau, all law students from Denmark visiting New York on vacation, called him “a rich fool,” yet felt that his clear and controversial opinions made him popular in the polls. Like six others interviewed, they did not believe he would stay on top.

Though several people did not believe that Trump is qualified to serve in the Oval Office, Topaz Lennard, an 81-year-old retired sex worker, said that Trump knows “how to deal with difficult situations.”

However, he could also create a difficult situation of his own. Republicans are annoyed because Trump has not ruled out a run as an independent candidate if he does not become the Republican nominee.

Yasel Fajarbo, 28, and Domanica Belle, 37, two Democrats from the Bronx, felt that Trump’s calling most Mexican undocumented immigrants criminals and rapists will hurt him in the long run. Without support from Mexican-Americans he will not be able to win the presidential election, they said.

Barbara Robinson, a 61-year-old information technology project manager from Richmond, Va., described those comments, as well as other remarks about Senator John McCain of Arizona, as “ill-informed, nasty, angry [and] inappropriate.”

However, others felt that some of the statements were justified. Javier Zavaleta, a 21-year-old student, said that Trump is entitled to his own opinion on McCain.

Later that evening, Trump took the stage during the first Republican debate alongside nine other candidates. He insulted Rosie O’Donnell, immigrants, and his rivals. He will likely continue to keep people on the High Line and elsewhere unclear if his candidacy is for laughs or the presidency.

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