Two men in suits walked into Trump Bar, which sits on the ground floor of Trump Tower, about an hour and a half before Trump took the New Hampshire primary.
To get to Trump Bar, the men had walked through the gold-plated revolving doors on 5th Avenue, across the marble-floored lobby, past the two gift shops selling Donald Trump shirts and books written by Donald Trump, and made a right just before the currency exchange booth, into a dim room with leather lounge chairs and carpeted floors. They found seats at the bar, ordered drinks, and turned their eyes to the TV, on which Fox News anchors noted that exit polls favored Donald Trump to easily win the night’s primary.
The bar, after all, had emerged as a tourist attraction in the months since Donald Trump shot to the top of GOP polls. To optimistic Trump supporters, it is the official bar of the next president of the United States. For Trump haters, it’s a place to go and gawk at Trump supporters in their temple. But on New Hampshire primary night, it was a quiet place to drink and watch the votes come in, surrounded by all things Trump.
Earlier, one patron had taken an Instagram-ready photo of his glass beside the Donald J. Trump campaign sign leaning against a row of pint glasses on the shelf behind the bar. Trump’s campaign headquarters sits five floors up and, according to one Trump Tower employee, staffers often grab a drink at the bar before heading out to events later on in the night. Just a few nights ago, Ivanka Trump passed through with her bodyguard in tow. And when Donald J. Trump holds a network news interview, he often stations himself and cameras in the corner of the bar, near the front entrance. “He sits right there,” the bartender pointed out to a patron. “He’s intimidating. But he’s a nice guy.” Trump’s go-to drink, the bartender noted, is a Diet Coke.
Two men, one in a blue suit and one in a gray suit, told BuzzFeed News they worked at a nearby corporate law firm. They were both clean-shaven white men. And when the television showed an image of the current exit poll results, the men laughed.
“Are you guys Donald Trump supporters?” a reporter at the bar asked.
“No,” the man in the gray suit said.
“Who do you guys want to be president then?”
“Bernie,” the man in the blue suit said.
“Why are you guys here?”
They looked at each other and smiled, and then the man in blue said, “A good sense of irony.”
The men requested anonymity because most people in their industry, they said, were Hillary Clinton supporters and they feared that being outed as a Bernie Sanders supporters would hurt their careers. They had come to Trump Bar hoping for a spectacle, hoping to jeer and chuckle at the excited Trump fans who had made the pilgrimage into the heart of Trumpness.
“There were more supporters here last week for Iowa,” the man in the gray suit said. That night, he said, Trump supporters had gathered around the bar, excited at first but soon disappointed, as the caucus results showed a victory for Ted Cruz. There were more than a dozen people inside the bar on that night, he said.
Tonight, though, while Trump himself was in New Hampshire, there were half a dozen, including the bartender, the waiter, and a man with an American flag pin on his lapel who had sat on a leather couch near the corner of the bar for more than an hour without ordering a drink.
He worked as a driver for the Trump family, he said. He used to be in the military, and he believes in Mr. Trump, even though he doesn’t talk to the candidate or the family much. The last guy who had his job talked a lot, he said, and that guy no longer works for the family, so this driver makes sure he only engages when one of the Trumps initiates the conversation.
As Hillary Clinton came on the television to give her speech, the driver grumbled, “Not a fan.” But his distaste for Hillary was quickly overshadowed when Megyn Kelly, the Fox News host, came on the screen. “She got nasty with him,” the driver said, shaking his head.
A few feet in front of him, three young men in ties and jackets had their eyes on the television. They were all in their mid-to-late twenties, they said, and they all worked in Trump Tower. They declined to give their names. They said their jobs were “finance-related” but would not specify. The news anchor on TV was saying that Trump had won the state by a strong margin, and one of the young men joked, “It’s like Tiger Woods: Everybody’s fighting for second.”
And then the young men began discussing the possibility of a Trump presidency. They quickly agreed that they hoped it wouldn’t happen.
“It would be a disaster if he won,” one of the men said. “‘Cause he'd be here all the time. Yeah, a lot of traffic and security."
Shortly after, the men finished their beers and left. They had to get up early for work tomorrow, one of them said.
Donald Trump came on TV to give his victory speech just before 10 p.m., right when the bar was due to close. The bartender offered to let people stay through the speech but by the time it began, everyone, including Trump's driver, had headed home.
Albert Samaha is the criminal justice reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Albert Samaha at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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