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N.Y. ties don’t guarantee vote for Trump, Clinton

Chad Livengood, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Hempstead, N.Y. — One is a native New Yorker, while the other is a transplant from Arkansas and Illinois.

But win or lose, New York is assured of having one of their own in the White House come Jan. 20, 2017, whether it is New York businessman Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, who moved to Chappaqua, New York, before she elected a U.S. senator for the Empire State in 2000.

Trump and Clinton’s home state is in the spotlight Monday night as Hofstra University on Long Island plays host to this year’s first presidential debate in what could be a pivotal and bruising showdown between the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

New York hasn’t had a president since 1945 when Franklin D. Roosevelt died in office after occupying the White House for 12 years.

But despite their state’s prominence in the election, New York residents interviewed here Sunday weren’t focused on Trump and Clinton’s residency in an election that has created sharp divisions over two candidates who are almost equally unpopular among voters.

New York residents are divided about whether it will matter to have a president from New York, the first time since 1945 following Franklin D. Roosevelt’s 12 years in the White House.

“I’m not going to vote for Trump because he’s from New York,” said Karen Orlando, 46, of Hempstead, N.Y. “That’s not a factor anyway. I wouldn’t vote for somebody based on my state. That’s seems a little shallow.”

“Donald Trump is what we used to call a bridge-and-tunnel person. He didn’t come from Manhattan, he came from a borough, Queens or Brooklyn or something — meaning he has no class, no intellectual credentials, an accent, he’s a loud-mouthed bully,” said Melanie Cooper, a retired magazine researcher from Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

Trump grew up in the Jamaica Estates neighborhood of Queens and moved to Manhattan in the early 1970s when he took over his father’s housing development company.

“Trump is more New York-centric, but I don’t think he brings out the best values of New York,” said Dr. Michael Pitzer, a dentist from East Meadow, N.Y., on Long Island. “Having him (in the White House) as a New Yorker doesn’t really represent our state well.”

Clinton grew up in a suburb of Chicago and moved to Arkansas when she married Bill Clinton. They left Arkansas in 1993 when Bill Clinton became president.

The Clintons purchased a home in the New York City suburb of Chappaqua in late 1999, the year before Hillary Clinton was elected to a U.S. Senate seat for New York.

“Do I think they’re New Yorkers? Not the New Yorkers that I know,” Cooper said.

Alyssa Locnikar, a 25-year-old law student at Hofstra University from Queens, is supporting Clinton and said she believes the former secretary of state has developed the gritty traits of a New Yorker.

“I definitely think we need a New Yorker in the White House next year,” Locnikar said. “They’re strong and aggressive and I think if anyone can take on a foreign power, it’s definitely going to be a New Yorker.”

Dan Hanson, 20, of Long Beach, N.Y., said he’s supporting Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and was indifferent about Clinton and Trump’s New York credentials.

“If they’re from New York and they do good things, that’s fine with me,” said Hanson, a junior at Hofstra University. “If they’re from Alaska and they do good things, that’s fine with me.”

Cooper said she thinks Trump has brought “disgrace” to her home state through his sometime divisive campaign rhetoric, even as he touts his accomplishments in building skyscrapers in the Big Apple.

“It’s part of his schtick, but do you think New York’s going to vote for him? No,” she said.


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Twitter: @ChadLivengood