Early Monday afternoon, Mabel Dahlke positioned herself along Wacker Drive to get just the right angle for a good photo of Trump International Hotel and Tower – and particularly the giant block letters spelling out the Trump name on the glittering skyscraper.
Dahlke, visiting Chicago from upstate New York, wanted to make sure the T was cut off in her shot. “I just took a picture of the RUMP,” she said with obvious pride.
Dahlke hasn’t decided whether to vote for Hillary Clinton, but she’s certainly not casting a ballot for Donald Trump. “He changes his mind every two minutes, and I don’t know whether he’s telling the truth or what he’s planning to do,” she said.
As the presidential campaign enters its final, furious stretch, Dahlke has lots of company around Chicago.
Still, even a racially and ethnically diverse, Democrat-dominated town like this must have some Trump supporters walking about – even on Labor Day. Right?
I was given the mission of trying to find one. It would not be easy.
At Wacker and Michigan, tourists Sarah Mourad and May Mudawar were also taking pictures of Trump Tower from across the river – and sending the images to friends in the shape of a heart.
Their friends would not miss their intended sarcasm. Mourad, from Georgia, and Mudawar, from Massachusetts, called themselves “unapologetically Muslim” and said Trump has been playing on bigotry and fear. Then they joked about being detained for saying so.
To Linda McCool, Trump is just a “loose cannon.” “He said he didn’t like Mexicans and wanted to put a wall up, and now he loves them. Then he visited a black church. No way. Not buying it.”
McCool, a 55-year-old Englewood resident, said she once met Hillary Clinton and has heard Bill Clinton speak, noting he visited Englewood High School as president. She can’t imagine Trump coming to her neighborhood. In the primaries, “Who voted for him?” she wondered.
Not Kevo Pempek, 38, who on Labor Day afternoon was surrounded by piles of pencils, pens and markers as he worked on a drawing of the city skyline to sell at Washington and State. Trump, he said, “seems like a bad joke.”
Not Pete Stavros, the grandson of Greek immigrants, who was out shopping on the Gold Coast. “I don’t like the idea of his finger on the button,” said the Lincoln Park resident.
And not the guy scratching his lottery ticket at the bus stop on Clark and Huron, who said he didn’t speak English well but communicated clearly when asked about the GOP candidate: “No, no, no, no Trump. No, no.”
After a couple of hours, I finally found a woman who admitted to knowing a Trump loyalist – her father. George Kemple, visiting from Tallahassee, Fla., was at a car nearby with a couple of his grandchildren. He was friendly and straight to the point.
“I’m a Republican capitalist,” he said. “I love Donald Trump.”
I mentioned he was the first one I’d come across all afternoon.
“Chicago is very Democratic and very liberal,” Kemple said. “That’s why it’s bankrupt.”
Chicagoans might protest that the city is not actually bankrupt – just billions of dollars in debt.
Kemple went on to say that he backs Trump’s calls to toughen immigration rules. In contrast, he said, Clinton is “planning to bring in umpteen more Muslims.”
This drew a wince from his daughter, who disappeared into the car.
Kemple smiled. “She’s a communist,” he said of his daughter. He was kidding.