In late June in Tulsa, Oklahoma — at his first in-person campaign rally since the COVID-19 pandemic began — President Trump invoked the Big Apple once and gave it a shine.
“They decapitated a statue of Christopher Columbus, except in New York, when the Italians surrounded it,” he said. “They didn’t have too much of a chance. Those Italians, I love the Italians.”
But last week in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, Trump referenced his native New York 17 times — the connotations decidedly more negative.
“If you kill somebody, they don’t prosecute you, but they go after political enemies,” he said. “What’s happening in New York is a terrible thing, and the place is dead.”
A NY1 review finds that Trump’s use of New York as a political foil has grown in frequency and intensity as the election draws closer.
In June, in his 25 sets of public remarks, he mentioned New York — in a disparaging context — at least 21 times.
In July, in 41 sets of remarks, at least 48 times.
In August, in 51 sets of remarks, at least 132 times.
And so far this month, as of Thursday afternoon, in 18 sets of remarks, at least 40 times.
He misrepresents the city as crime-infested.
“They’re actually shot and killed. New York, the same thing. New York’s gone through the roof. They’re up to 300 percent in certain categories. And you say, ‘What’s happening?’” he said earlier this month at a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, rally.
He blames the state for making him look bad on COVID-19.
“You take New York out of the equation — I think we have among the best numbers anyway — but you take New York, we have the best numbers in the world country-wide,” he told Fox News late last month.
Trump also issued a memo ordering a review of federal funding to “anarchist” cities.
It has six mentions of his hometown.
The Democratic-led city and state make a convenient bogeyman as the Republican president faces reelection against Joe Biden.
Trump bills himself as the law-and-order candidate.
New York is confronting a crime spike, though it’s not close to being the violent wasteland he paints it to be.
Trump faces charges of a botched COVID-19 response.
New York was an epicenter of the pandemic, though its mitigation measures now keep its infection rates low.
To be sure, Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio have forcefully criticized Trump in turn — an arrangement that leaves all three benefiting politically.
“And it’s a personal animus, as it normally is with the president. I think it’s because he’s from New York City,” Cuomo said earlier this month. “And New York City rejected him, always. He was dismissed as a clown in New York City. Those who know him best like him least.”