The Mostly Failed Attempts Of Presidential Candidates Trying To Be New Yorkers Before The Primary
How do presidential hopefuls win over a state's voters? Sure, a few powerful speeches and well-thought out proposals on healthcare, foreign policy, and tax reform help a candidate shore up support, but everybody knows it's the kitschy photo ops that really bring the votes home. Early in the primary, this meant candidates were stepping behind grills, devouring various fried foods, and shucking corn at state fairs. But both the Democrat and Republican presidential contenders have had to switch gears in the run up to the New York primary. Some of the most memorable moments from the New York primary campaign trail have been instances when the presidential candidates attempted to woo New York voters by trying, and sometimes failing, to show off their New York street cred.
This year's election is unique, as three candidates are claiming to have that Empire State of mind. Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican frontrunner Donald Trump both boast New York borough birth certificates while former Secretary of State and Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton has had a Westchester address for roughly 15 years. Despite so many ties to the state, it seems almost as if all five of the remaining presidential candidates have experienced more embarrassing moments in New York than anywhere else. I guess it's true what they say, New York isn't for everyone.
Ahead of New York's primary, a look back at the presidential candidates' most memorable New York moments.
Clinton's MetroCard fiasco may go down as one of the more comical moments of the 2016 primary. They say the third time is a charm, but it took the former New York senator five attempts to make it through the turnstiles and onto the 4 train in the Bronx on April 17. Perhaps Clinton's saving grace is her ability to poke fun at herself. The Democratic frontrunner used a gif of her MetroCard failure on the 404 error page of her official campaign website.
Then there's that time she went to Junior's Cheesecake, Brooklyn's famous cheesecake factory, to simply sit across from three slices of the dessert New York perfected all while not eating, not holding a fork, not even sneaking a quick swipe with her finger. Is she even human?
Sanders clearly has New York roots — his accent makes that yuugely unmistakable. And though Sanders seems to have retained a lot of that cranky New York attitude, the Vermont senator reminded everyone how old he really is (and how his critics think he's out of touch) in an interview with the Daily News where he said "you get a token and you get in" to ride the subway. Things have changed since you were here last, Sanders, and even Clinton (sorta) knows how to commute New York style.
The senator had his comeback moment during the most recent Democratic debate, which was held last week in Brooklyn, Sanders' home turf. In his closing argument, Sanders garnered significant applause when he touched on his family's story of immigration. "I grew up in Brooklyn, New York," he said. "The son of an immigrant who came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket. Never made a whole lot of money, but was a very proud American."
Trump opted for a New York campaign strategy that went heavy on the rallies and rather sparse on the personal appearances and meet-and-greets. Born and raised in Queens, New York, Trump certainly isn't short on advertisement in the city. His name is plastered on at least nine buildings,and he owns a handful more. New York already knows Trump.
Trump did make one particularly powerful appearance in New York in the run up to the primary. He toured the September 11 Memorial Museum with his wife, Melania, on April 9 and left a $100,000 donation behind in a not-so-subtle reminder of his sparring with Cruz over "New York values."
It was hard to determine if the Ohio governor was campaigning or simply living the dream on a foodie tour of New York. To say that Kasich ate his way across the state would be an understatement.
Kasich offended a few New Yorkers with his first foray into the state's culinary staples by daring to eat a slice of pizza from Gino's Pizzeria and Restaurant in Queens with a fork on March 30. Even in California we know you hold and fold when digging into a slice in New York. I mean, when in Rome, Kasich, when in Rome.
The governor's feasting continued on April 7 at Mike's Deli on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx when he worked his way through multiple plates of spaghetti bolognese and part of a Yankee Stadium Big Boy, a sandwich featuring Italian cold cuts, all in one sitting. If nominations were won through eating contests, I'd put my money on Kasich.
Like many tourists strolling around the Big Apple, Cruz didn't find New York, or New Yorkers for that matter, very welcoming. The "New York values" comment he dropped during a GOP debate held back in January in South Carolina certainly didn't help the Texas senator make a good first impression to say the least.
Cruz's New York adventure got off to a rocky start April 6 when a protester at his sparsely attended campaign event in the Bronx called him a "bigot" whose anti-immigrant policies made him unwelcome in the neighborhood. Later in the day he was forced to cancel an appearance at a high school after students threatened to protest the event with a walk out.
A few weeks later, Cruz was back in New York, this time visiting a Brooklyn matzo bakery on April 17 to try his hand at rolling out unleavened bread. He donned a "Cruz 2016" yarmulke at the Jewish Center of Brighton Beach later that same day. No word on if his campaign is releasing that as official merchandise.
But for as much as this election's crop of presidential candidates seem to be catering to New York, New Yorkers don't seem impressed by their pandering.