In a rare, competitive New York presidential primary, three candidates are promoting their ties to the Big Apple. But who among them is the most authentic New Yawker?
It’s a tough test, measured in time and roots but also in investment and affection. Locals say you know it when you see it.
Pitching to the local crowd before Tuesday’s primary, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are heavily stressing their New York ties. Clinton is talking up her time as a senator for the state, Sanders has stumped outside his childhood home and Trump is waxing poetic about growing up in Brooklyn and Queens.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are not players in this particular competition. Cruz is still dealing with his criticism of “New York values” in a Republican debate, and Kasich was roundly mocked recently for eating a slice of pizza with a knife and fork (a New York no-no, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has been known to wield cutlery, as well).
But how do Clinton, Sanders and Trump stack up when it comes to New Yorkiness?
HOMETOWN BRAGGING RIGHTS
Clinton: Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Clinton adopted New York as her home state when she ran for Senate in 2000. The Clintons own a home in Chappaqua about an hour north of the city, but she put her campaign headquarters in Brooklyn.
Sanders: Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sanders grew up in Flatbush and ran track at James Madison High School. But after a year at Brooklyn College, Sanders transferred to the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. By the late ’60s, he had made his way up to Vermont.
Trump: Queens is where Trump’s story begins. He was raised there and, after attending the University of Pennsylvania in the late 1960s, he built his New York real estate career in the 1970s. His residences include an opulent penthouse in Trump Tower, though he likes to spend time at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach.
Points: Three points to Trump, two to Sanders, one to Clinton.
Clinton: Got flak for struggling to use a MetroCard to ride the subway.
Sanders: Teased for telling the Daily News that you still need a token to ride the subway.
Trump: Does he ever ride the subway?
Points: Bubkes, zip, nada.
Clinton: Has been waxing poetic about her time as a senator and talking about her love of the city. During a recent interview she spoke about strolling down a Brooklyn street, saying she loves “to just get out and walk in New York.”
Sanders: On a visit to his childhood home, Sanders recalled playing marbles in the street and attending the local school. “I spent thousands of hours playing punch ball. Do they still play punch ball?” he said.
Trump: Held a rally in Long Island recently where he told the cheering crowd: “I love Queens, do we have a lot of Queens? I grew up in Queens.”
Points: Two each to Sanders and Trump, one to Clinton.
Trump has stopped in at the 9/11 memorial. Sanders visited his childhood home in Brooklyn. Clinton took a subway ride.
Points: Three to Sanders, two to Trump, one to Clinton.
Sanders and Trump both have a distinctly local lilt, as evidenced by their similar pronunciation of the word huge as “yuge.” Clinton’s accent betrays her Midwestern upbringing and years in Arkansas.
Points: One each to Sanders and Trump. Clinton? Fuhgeddaboudit.
ASK A NATIVE:
Chris Gomez, 31, of Flushing, called it for Trump, saying “he has buildings across New York.” So did Alan Thomas, 55, a custodian at Brooklyn Bridge Park, who lives in Manhattan. He said: “I would say Trump, but I don’t like him.”
Both Sanders and Trump would make the cut, according to Tina Bell, 68, of Brooklyn, who said, “Hillary bought her way in.”
And Sandie Antar, 65, a lifelong New Yorker who now resides in Long Island, is voting for Clinton, but she said none of them pass the New Yorker test. Still, she added: “New Yorkers are much too sophisticated. We don’t care about any of that.”
Points: Two for Trump, one for Sanders.
FINAL TALLY: Trump inches out Sanders to be king of the hill, top of the heap.