I almost feel sorry for Donald Trump operatives in Miami.
This is far from their kind of their city.
#CafecitoCountersOnEveryCorner is our hashtag and we’re home to the best authentic taco trucks.
If awkward is the word to describe Mitt Romney, of “self-deport” fame, and the tepid applause that greeted him in 2012 Miami, what will Trump’s adjective be?
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Ponder that as I tell you this only-in-Miami campaign story.
The first on-the-ground report of the presidential campaign arrives in my inbox with gossipy news that Donald Trump’s people are running around town setting up shop — and by the sounds of this radio bemba account — that would be from the street to my ears — it’s not going so well.
At a recent Saturday meeting of Trump supporters at a western outpost of Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine, two of Trump’s top people in Miami-Dade waltzed in putting on some airs. Now, that’s just the wrong way to make an entrance into a place where people feed you the way your abuelita did, with oodles of cariño dripping from the juicy ropa vieja dish of shredded beef soaked in garlicky tomato sauce.
“They spoke to the Latinos there in an imposing way, superior, as if these were insignificant people,” Caridad Medina wrote me.
One of Trump’s operatives allegedly pushed someone in his path, and when an older woman called him on it, he disrespected her too. Then there was screaming about some people in the crowd being Hillary Clinton plants — and calls followed to throw them out.
The latter is nothing unusual for a Trump event. But it turns out these people really are all die-hard Republicans and Trump supporters — and mad enough to write to this Miami Herald columnist, who has denounced Trump from the day he launched his campaign casting Mexican immigrants as criminals.
Leave it to Trump staffers to dismiss their own supporters who, once they’re disrespected, don’t care if you’re Ivanka Trump’s friend or vice chairman of the campaign in Trumplandia.
The presidential campaign is about to get zanier with the opening of Trump “mobile offices” in South Florida. This isn’t Anywhere USA. Watching Trump’s stuffy campaign operatives try to round up votes in the quintessential immigrant city might just become a sport. It’ll be barrels of fun to watch Trump people try to break Miami’s Cuban code.
Miami, in spirit and vibe, is the anti-Trump. Trump is an angry, bitter man.
Despite our national reputation for rudeness on the road, we’re funny, warm, hospitable people at heart. We party like there’s no tomorrow. We make fun of everything, most of all ourselves. This is home to the Pichy Boys, who spin Cuban tragedy into Hialeah skits, and Dave Barry, whose hilarious tale of a colonoscopy hangs in doctors’ offices.
Trump is humorless and self-obsessed — only the memes about him are funny.
But most of all, Miami is full of eccentric characters that turn everything on its head and serve us our daily dose of picturesque.
Imagine the agitated anti-Castro activist who regularly takes a bulldozer in front of Versailles Restaurant to anything that smells pro-Castro rolling over President Trump’s plans for a golf resort in Cuba.
Imagine the fabulous drag queens of Miami Beach and Calle Ocho coming out to a meet and greet.
Imagine He Who Knows Everything — and better than anyone else, even the generals — hustling votes among real people who think America is pretty great already, even though they deal every day with problems Trump has never known. Too bad Trump has only met with some of Miami’s dullest representatives instead of its people.
In his spare visits, Trump’s mostly been hiding at his hotel, but on the street, his campaign wouldn’t be spared Miami antics.
I’d give anything to tail clueless Trump and his people around Cuban Miami for a few hours — just to feel the election stress roll off my shoulders from the laughs. If he plans to defeat ISIS in 30 days, I’d ask him, how long might it take him to get rid of the Castros?
A stiff like The Donald is a hard sell — not that the Miamians who make a living on elections aren’t going to try to peddle his virtues if they land the right PR contract. But insiders who’ve seen real support for past Republican presidential candidates can tell how hard Trump is making it for those once reliable Cuban-American voters to like the man they say they’re voting for.
A recent nationwide poll by Latino Decisions and America’s Voice shows that Trump is poised to score a historically low number of Latino votes: 19 percent to Hillary Clinton’s 70 percent. Romney lost with 27 percent of the Latino vote.
Those die-hard Cuban-Americans in Miami may be all he’s got.
“All I know is that Mr. Trump is going to win — and that’s all,” insists Clara Roteta, one of the Cuban Americans involved in the brouhaha at the Las Vegas Cuban restaurant.
The way she explains the incident, misunderstandings arose when Trump’s representatives — English-only americanos who most people, including herself, didn’t know — started taking down names and phone numbers without enough courtesy and socializing, causing some discomfort and “confusion.”
She declined to give any more details because she is one of those loyal Republicans — and she’s working for a well-known local operative, she told me.
The email writer, Caridad Medina, who called the tiff “racist,” is also having second thoughts about telling on Trump’s people.
“Everything has been resolved,” she wrote me Thursday. “In every house, there are arguments. Nothing happened.”
That’s real time politics, Miami-style.