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OpinionColumnistsLane Filler

Trump, Clinton, Nixon all head to LI

President Donald Trump arrives at Long Island MacArthur

President Donald Trump arrives at Long Island MacArthur Airport on July 28, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

This originally appeared in The Point, to subscribe click here.

It’s been said that if you sit at a table on the Champs-Élysées for long enough, you’ll see the whole world pass by.

But Paris has nothing on the Long Island Expressway this week.

First it was Pete King announcing that President Donald Trump would be in Bethpage on Wednesday to attend a roundtable discussion on MS-13 and gang violence. Then the news broke that Hillary Clinton would be at Hofstra University, also on Wednesday to address the New York State Democratic Convention and endorse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for a third term.

The political scene boasts more angles than a Regents geometry exam.

  • The last time Trump and Clinton were together on Long Island was for the Hofstra presidential debate in 2016. Will Clinton be able to avoid reminiscing (or want to avoid it) when she makes a speech on the same campus.
  • Will the focus be on the 2018 gubernatorial race or the 2020 presidential race? Clinton is touting Cuomo, a New Yorker who wants a chance to face Trump in 2020 but needs decisive wins in the primary against Cynthia Nixon and the general election to validate his chances.
  • Is it wise for Cuomo, facing the Nixon forces that sprung from the campaign of Bernie Sanders, to have asked Clinton to sing his praises? Or does it remind everyone that one reason Trump is president is that Republicans found a way to unite behind a candidate the party disagreed with on most things, while Democrats still can’t seem to unify behind candidates with whom they agree about most things.
  • Should this be billed, a la classic Japanese monster movies, “Animals vs. Super Predators: Long Island”? Trump is being bashed by his enemies and embraced by his allies by calling MS-13 gang members “animals” which some have said was his view of all immigrants. Clinton, in her 2016 campaign, faced a backlash for a 1996 speech in which she called brutally murderous gang members “super predators” in a way that some felt implied bias against young African-American men.

And both are coming to Long Island, ostensibly to address New York issues, but in reality with a much more national goal in mind. Trump doesn’t need to convince Long Island of how bad MS-13 is, but believes the issue plays well nationally. And Cuomo knows he doesn’t need Clinton’s help in his governor’s race, where the same people who distrust him distrust her. The goal with that visit is national, too.