Dun­dalk shows love for Trump

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Bal­ti­more Sun re­porter John Fritze con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle. pwood@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/pwoodreporter

strong­hold of cen­trist Demo­cratic pol­i­tics, gave Trump sig­nif­i­cant sup­port this year in the state’s Repub­li­can pri­mary. Trump cap­tured 77 per­cent of the GOP vote in the leg­isla­tive dis­trict that en­com­passes the area, com­pared with 54 per­cent statewide.

Once a hub of man­u­fac­tur­ing, the Dun­dalk re­gion also fits neatly into Trump’s mes­sage of try­ing to re­vive parts of the coun­try left be­hind in a post-in­dus­trial econ­omy. Beth­le­hem Steel, Gen­eral Mo­tors and other large plants em­ployed tens of thou­sands of res­i­dents here decades ago.

Trump was mobbed by sup­port­ers as he made a cir­cuit around the main din­ing room, shaking hands and pos­ing for pic­tures. He didn’t give a speech or make any pub­lic re­marks, but had brief in­ter­ac­tions with fans who clearly adored him.

Trump then sat down at a cor­ner ta­ble with for­mer New York Mayor Rudy Gi­u­liani, for­mer Mary­land Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., state Sen. Johnny Ray Salling and the Rev. Stacey Shi­flett, pas­tor of Cal­vary Bap­tist Church in Dun­dalk.

Trump’s se­cu­rity de­tail stood in front of the ta­ble, but pa­trons craned their necks and tried to take pic­tures any­way.

Trump’s ta­ble ini­tially was served ham­burg­ers. But restau­rant man­ager Marc Tsakiris thought the can­di­date might want to try one of the diner’s spe­cial­ties: a crab cake.

“The Se­cret Ser­vice came in and or­dered burg­ers. I said, ‘We’ve got to at least present him the crab cake,’ ” Tsakiris said.

Trump turned from the burger (which he ate with­out the bun) to the crab cake and en­joyed it, ac­cord­ing to Salling and Shi­flett.

Even as the diner was packed with re­porters, cam­paign staffers and lo­cal politi­cians, the diner staff con­tin­ued to serve lunch to pa­trons, de­liv­er­ing burg­ers and re­fill­ing so­das. Some of the wait staff lifted their phones, too, to try and get pic­tures of Trump in be­tween their du­ties.

Trump’s un­sched­uled stop made for a “pretty crazy” day for Tsakiris. He first got wind of the pos­si­ble visit a few days ago but didn’t be­lieve it would hap­pen.

As Mon­day wore on, he said, it seemed more likely. He knew for sure Trump would be com­ing when he heard it on the ra­dio.

“We re­ally didn’t ex­pect it,” Tsakiris said. “This was a once-in-a-life­time thing.”

The Boule­vard Diner has hosted politi­cians and celebri­ties be­fore, he said, but no one of the level of fame as Trump.

“We had Guy Fieri one time and this blows that out of the wa­ter,” Tsakiris said. (The Food Net­work host filmed an episode of “Din­ers, Drive-Ins and Dives” at the Boule­vard a few years ago.)

Salling said the meal with Trump was his best lunch ever. He said the can­di­date was “down to earth,” and in­ter­ested in what his din­ing com­pan­ions had to say.

“It was pretty ex­cit­ing, to say the least,” Salling said.

Salling used his few min­utes with Trump to pitch ef­forts by Trade­point At­lantic to re­de­velop the old Spar­rows Point steel mill into an in­dus­trial cam­pus. Trump seemed in­ter­ested, he said.

Shi­flett, who is Salling’s pas­tor, said he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time to be in­vited to eat with Trump.

“He’s a lot more per­son­able and a lot more warm than what he’s por­trayed in the me­dia,” Shi­flett said.

He said Trump asked him about evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians and how they might vote in Novem­ber. Trump also wanted to know more about Gov. Larry Ho­gan.

Ho­gan, a Repub­li­can, has said he will not vote for Trump. He was not at the Dun­dalk event.

“He was very in­ter­ested in Gov­er­nor Ho­gan and the cut­ting of fees and tolls,” Shi­flett said. Trump also was “in­trigued” by Ho­gan’s high ap­proval rat­ings, Shi­flett said.

While Trump and his com­pan­ions had their lunch, Susan Jimi­son and Joy Bar­ley and their hus­bands watched from the next ta­ble, try­ing to get a look at the GOP nom­i­nee or catch a snip­pet of the con­ver­sa­tion.

The two cou­ples hap­pened to be hav­ing lunch in the diner when some­one spot­ted the Viet­nam vet­er­ans hats worn by JoJo Jimi­son and Jack Bar­ley. The cou­ples were asked if they were Trump sup­port­ers. When they said yes, they were given cam­paign stick­ers and moved to the prime ta­ble.

The women were giddy after meet­ing briefly with Trump. Bar­ley, who lives in Dun­dalk, said Trump was “very, very po­lite” and “much bet­ter look­ing in per­son.” She said Trump shook her hand, which is in a brace, and told her to take care of it.

Jimi­son, vis­it­ing from Fort Laud­erdale, Fla., also was im­pressed by Trump’s ap­pear­ance: “His hair looks bet­ter in per­son.”

After eat­ing, Trump and his group departed the diner. As he walked to­ward the door, one per­son shouted: “Dun­dalk loves you!” and then cheers of “Trump! Trump! Trump!” broke out again.

Step­ping out of the diner, Trump waved to sup­port­ers and signed ball caps worn by vol­un­teers. Then he was whisked away.

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