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Trump and Clinton: just two miles apart in Manhattan

On Tuesday, the next president of the United States will celebrate in New York, no matter who wins.

Donald Trump has chosen a relatively banal hotel on Sixth Avenue. Hillary Clinton rented the enormous Javits Centre — with a glass ceiling — on the banks of the Hudson River.

The two locations are separated by a bit more than two miles of skyscrapers and iconic Big Apple landmarks that, for the world, symbolise America’s power.

The area is one where a sea of New Yorkers and tourists mingle, many of them likely exhausted by a brutal White House campaign that has polarized the nation.

Team Trump’s party site

At the New York Hilton Midtown, it’s business as usual.

It’s hard to imagine that this hotel, just a stone’s throw from Trump Tower — the headquarters of the 70-year-old Trump’s property empire — could be the scene of a political shockwave, if the Republican billionaire wins on Tuesday.

For now, the lobby is full — the Hilton is booked solid. On the third floor, far from public view, staff are putting the final touches to the giant video screens and booming sound in a ballroom where Trump will host his victory party.

Maximum capacity? 2,360 people.

Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York. —Reuters
Donald Trump and his wife Melania Trump vote at PS 59 in New York. —Reuters

“It’s just mayhem both ways, if he wins or if he loses,” said a member of the hotel’s housekeeping staff, who said he was only allowed to give his first name, Mark.

“He doesn’t look like he is the type to lose gracefully.” A few steps to the south, in front of the grandiose Rockefeller Center, confused tourists abound. Despite the gorgeous autumn weather, the building’s celebrated ice skating rink is closed for Election Day to make room for NBC’s camera crews.

Patricia Volino and her husband Alberto, who came from neighboring New Jersey with their two children, cannot hide their disappointment. But Patricia’s eyes light up when she talks about voting.

“I am a long time Hillary Clinton fan. I have been waiting for this moment for 8 years!” she said.

That type of enthusiasm has often eluded Clinton, but is not that surprising in New York, a Democratic bastion if ever there was one.

Bright lights, big city

Broadway’s famed theaters and bright marquees — which call to mind the overwhelming support Clinton receives from Hollywood and the arts community — are not far away.

The headquarters of The New York Times is also nearby. The daily has wholeheartedly endorsed the 69-year-old former secretary of state, after breaking the scandal about her use of a private email server that dogged her campaign.

In front of the entrance to the daily’s headquarters, a black man who said he was wearing a sombrero “in solidarity with Mexican immigrants” held a sign.

“Trump belongs on TV, not in the White House,” it said.

In this part of midtown Manhattan, tourists and passersby reflect the deep divisions in America playing out on Election Day.

Micki Gibson takes a break in the middle of Times Square, after coming to town to watch the city’s marathon on Sunday with her adult children.

The five family members were planning to head home to South Carolina just in time to vote.

“We are all Republican down there, we are all voting for Trump, although we are not very pleased with his attitude,” Gibson said.

“He is unpredictable, he speaks up and can’t hold his tongue… but we don’t have a lot of choice.” Gibson added that she was “impressed” with Trump’s running mate Mike Pence, noting: “He should be president some day!”

Hillary Clinton stands with Barack Obama at an election eve rally. — AFP
Hillary Clinton stands with Barack Obama at an election eve rally. — AFP

‘I’ve had enough’

At the cavernous Port Authority bus terminal a few blocks to the west, customers flock to ticket counters to make it home to vote.

Slu Stone, a 36-year-old woman who works as a carpenter, is heading to Chicago, but says she has no plans to watch the results come in: “I have had enough!” Stone says she is not sure if she will cast a ballot for Clinton but is certain she will not vote for Trump, calling him “stupid”.

Just a 10-minute walk from the bus station, Clinton will welcome her supporters at the Javits Center under its celebrated glass ceiling — which she will symbolically hope to break through as America’s first woman president.

“I’m glad it’s coming to an end… this has been a different kind of campaign,” said Donna Thomas, a Javits Center security guard.

The young black woman says she will vote for Clinton. “If she loses, we will just have to hope for the best,” she noted.

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