New Hampshire: The View From Red-State Manhattan

New York City Republicans watch the scramble to lead their party

by Gunjan Banerji and Muna Habib

Republican voters as young as 19 and old as 70 packed into a classically decorated room in midtown Manhattan. They chit-chatted, mingled, and occasionally cheered, including when George Pataki briefly took the floor, rallying the packed room with a pronounced enthusiasm for the party’s 2016 White House bid.

The watchers may not agree with each other on which Republican candidate should be their nominee, but they agreed on something else: “Look at the Democrats!” Pataki exclaimed. “There is an unelectable neo-Marxist and a walking felon,” he said.

GOP supporters, both from formal groups and alone,  gathered at the Women’s National Republican Club on West 51st Street in midtown Manhattan to watch the New Hampshire Primary live, and over drinks and hors d’ouevres, such as pigs-in-a-blanket and mini quesadillas. The enclave was filled with business casual-clad supporters, keenly interested in the wall-length projection of Fox News’s primary results on one side of the room.

An equally large and expansive mirror hung on another side against a cream colored wall with an antique gold American eagle emblem above. By 8:00 pm, as the votes continued to stream in, a number of New Yorkers at the viewing party remained hopeful that other favorites still had a shot at snagging the national nomination. While the television blared news of Donald Trump’s likely success, attendees continued to sip wine and converse, showing no indication that they were delighted with the entrepreneur’s victory.

“I do not think that Donald Trump should be president,” Pataki said to a reporter after his speech, right before he was escorted out the door. The former New York state governor suspended his own presidential campaign in late December.

Trump, it seems, divided the room. Meredith Muller, 23, who describes herself as socially liberal but fiscally conservative, said Trump is her candidate. “Me and my friends can’t get enough of Trump, how he plays the media is clever,” She said Trump’s ability to win more airtime and newspaper coverage than any other Republican candidate impressed her. “Trump is everywhere, I believe he will do great things for the U.S.”

But an older woman at the event, who did not want her name used, spoke of the controversial candidate in hushed tones. “I can’t be seen to supporting him,” she said. “My job is to work with the public, and supporting him publicly would be bad for me.”

Several attendees stressed that national security was a priority for them this election. Rebecca Harary, 53, said that the United States’ relationship with Israel is especially important to her. Meanwhile, Jacob Bard, 25, said that containing the national debt is at the top of his list when evaluating candidates this year. He backs Texas Senator Ted Cruz supporter.

Two nineteen-year-old Chris Christie supporters wore navy “Christie 2016” T-shirts. The New Jersey natives said they were fond of governor’s blunt attitude.  But, they often find themselves outnumbered at New York University, where they said Democrat Bernie Sanders has overwhelming support. “He’s still in it to win it,” said Greg Contaldi, 19, of Christie, regardless of the governor’s dismal showing in the New Hampshire primary. (By Wednesday afternoon, Christie had told allies that he plans to suspend his campaign, according to The New York Times.)

On the Democratic side, Sanders closed with 59.7% of the vote, soundly beating Hillary Clinton.  Trump ended up winning the New Hampshire primary among Republicans, securing 10 delegates and 35% of the vote.

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