MALVERN — The Main Line crowd, the one decked out in suits, pantsuits and dresses with American flag flourishes, got tired of waiting for Ivanka Trump. She was late. Delayed by over an hour because of fog in New York. So the Main Line crowd, the one situated in a hotel decorated with wall paintings of long-haired colonial white dudes and fox hunts, started chanting.
First, it was just “Trump.” Then it was “build that wall.” Finally, it was “lock her up.” Again, all of this happened on the Main Line at a place called The Desmond, which bills itself as the “premier full service hotel” (but is apparently hated by Main Liners).
To say the least, it was an odd atmosphere. Donald Trump has held a rally in a literal pile of dirt at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. His running mate Mike Pence has held one at a warehouse on Apple Butter Road in Bucks County that was largely attended by “mostly white people who all look like they left work a little early to indulge in a late summer round on the country club’s back nine.” Ivanka Trump’s coffee talk from this morning fit somewhere in between.
The audience was mostly white and mostly old and probably two-thirds female. There were American flag skirts, American flag hair bows, GOP elephant-patterned ties and a whole bunch of people wearing “Chinese Americans <3 Trump” t-shirts, sometimes over suits, pantsuits and dresses. They weren’t from the suburbs. Jimmy Liu, proudly wearing one of the shirts, said he flew in from California, sent by the group because it was a big event.
The hour wait for Trump was apparently making the audience restless. One lady started walking around asking people whether they went to Penn. An elderly lady thought she was asking to borrow a pen.
Trump arrived at about 11:45. She spoke for 15 to 20 minutes (joined on stage by somebody who appeared on The Apprentice) and took four questions from the audience. One was about her own children. Another was about her memories from Penn and Philadelphia — Trump said Philadelphia “has some of the best restaurants in the country.”
None had to do with the recent news about Trump’s leaked Access Hollywood videotape or the groping allegations brought forth by several women. People in the audience said they weren’t concerned about it. Jean, who requested only her first name be used, acknowledged a lot of Republican women on the Main Line have a problem with “the sex stuff, the audio tape,” but she continues to support him because of his policies, particularly regarding taxes, health care and the economy.
At a fall festival earlier this year in Malvern, Jean was working at a Republican table and said there was a long line of people just wanting to take pictures with a Donald Trump cardboard cut-out. Still, people like Jean and the other suburbanites watching Ivanka are in the minority. Polls show the Main Line moms for the most part are supporting Clinton. The latest, from Bloomberg, had Clinton with 56 percent support among suburban Philly women and Trump with 37 percent.
But it wasn’t a great idea to bring up polls at The Desmond.
“Polls,” said Carla D’addesi, “are for skiers and strippers.”
D’addesi, who is originally from Cheltenham, brought her daughters out of school and traveled down to Malvern from Wyomissing to see Ivanka Trump. She said Trump is “a beautiful mouthpiece…internally a beautiful woman.”
D’addesi has a radio show on the religious-themed station 1180 WFYL. Before Trump took the stage, she was doing Facebook Live shots with her daughters and some other young women who came down from Wyomissing. She said they were proof millennials cared about Donald Trump (they were also about the only millennials at The Desmond).
The “Access Hollywood” recording of Trump saying “grab them by the pussy” and talking about being able to kiss women because he’s a star did bother D’addesi. Just not enough to change her mind on Trump. She said she was more concerned about the safety of the country and also added that “50 Shades of Grey” and Miley Cyrus objectified women, too.
Two women who drove to Malvern from Harrisburg took a harder line on the audiotape — against Clinton. They noted they’d helped register six women to vote since last Friday’s news broke because the women considered it a low blow from the Hillary camp.
Then they shuffled into the hotel ballroom and waited and waited for over an hour before Ivanka finally emerged and started talking about “this whole concept of balance.”