By Mary Kekatos and Ang Li
On Tuesday night, Republican hopeful Donald Trump won the Indiana primary by a landslide and rival Ted Cruz dropped out of the GOP race, all but assuring that Trump will be named the GOP nominee. Following the news, a small crowd gathered outside the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. where the billionaire candidate has his campaign headquarters. Some were thrilled with the news; others, not so much.
“I just figured it is a good chance to witness history,” said Nick Celli. “I didn’t think Trump was going to lock [the nomination] up. Didn’t think Cruz would drop out tonight, but I am glad he did.”
A New Jersey resident, Celli hasn’t voted in the primaries yet, but he says he will definitely vote for Trump when the time comes. He says he supports Trump for his tough stance on different issues, ranging from securing the borders to the refugee crisis. “He is the best candidate, putting American interest first, making sure Americans are served the best,” he said.
New York resident Joe Brunner, 37, proudly wore a red “Make America Great Again” hat, which he said he bought back in August right in Trump Tower itself. Brunner is more than a Trump supporter; he’s also a Trump volunteer. He campaigned for Trump in Pennsylvania and would have campaigned in Indiana, except he had to work. And just because Trump is that much closer to clinching the nomination doesn’t mean the campaign work stops,
“I’m volunteering for Trump and I will continue like Cruz didn’t drop out,” Brunner said. “Because it’s not over until he captures all 1,200 delegates. He needs to win every state remaining.”
With Indiana under his belt, Trump has 1,047 delegates. He needs 190 more to officially secure the nomination. Brunner, who originally backed Scott Walker until he dropped out in September of last year, did not see the appeal in Cruz. According to Brunner, Cruz “mirrored everything that Trump said first” including comments on border security, so it’s no surprise that the Texas senator has dropped out.
Brunner believes Trump will not only secure the GOP nomination, but also the presidency. “He had 2,000 volunteers in Pennsylvania and he has over 100,000 across the country. What makes a person electable is the volunteers,” he said.
The news of Trump’s triumph in Indiana, not surprisingly also brought out a group of anti-Trump protestors. Among them was Nelson Tineo, a freelance photographer from Hamilton Heights who held a sign that read, “Fuck Trump.” He says his experience with gentrification, soaring rent and stop and frisk have made him suspicious. “They hurt me and I want to speak for myself,” he said. “I am not anti-Trump; I am anti-Trump belief.”
Nearby, Jason Buvack, 37, handed out T-shirts that read: “Deport Me Trump I am a Father.” Variations included replacing the word”Father” with “Mother,” “Sister” and “Brother.” Buyuck, 37, started out passing out the shirts around 9:30 p.m. after exit polls showed that Republican candidate Donald Trump had won the Indiana primary.
Buyuck says the idea for the shirts came after Trump first made comments about deporting the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently residing in the U.S.
“This country was built by immigrants,” he said. “If all the immigrants have to go, then only the Native Americans should stay because they were here first.”
By 9:40 p.m., Buyuck estimated that he had passed out about 40 shirts, but said he had 300 more left to hand out. He says the goal is to show that immigrants are not criminals. Buyuck is a Muslim immigrant from Turkey.
“Luckily I am a U.S. citizen, but what if I was undocumented?” he said. “I got two kids, I work in construction sometimes 12 to 14 hours. I’m a single father just trying to support my kids like many immigrants.”
According to Buyuck, he’s not anti-Republican, just anti-Trump. Several of the real estate mogul’s comments have upset Buyuck particularly his statement that he wanted to bar all Muslims from entering the United States.
“He wants to ban all of them from the United States, but we buy houses and we buy cars and we’re American just like everybody else,” he said.