CONCORD, North Carolina — If you happened to tune in to Donald Trump's speech here on Thursday, you would have seen a few Hasidic men sitting behind him, one holding a sign that read "Democrat for Trump." It was a weird flip — you mostly hear about Republicans breaking ranks to vote for Hillary Clinton (or at least not vote Trump) not the other way around. But as it turns out, that wasn't exactly what was going on here.
Overwhelmingly, the crowd in Concord was local. Other than the gentlemen on the risers (who we'll get to in a moment) the person we spoke with who travelled the farthest was from Asheville, North Carolina — two and a half hours away. And the issues they identified were fairly typical for voters you might expect at a Republican event in North Carolina: jobs, immigration, gun control, and abortion came up most often. There were occasional nods to gay marriage and taxes. There were a lot of Southern accents, baseball caps, and Red Wings. Based on outward appearances, and vehicles, it seemed like a pretty traditional, if mostly working class, North Carolina crowd.
The Democrat for Trump, on the other hand, was a 25-year-old Hasidic Jew from Rockland County, New York (which is not a completely unusual position), flown in by the campaign and the North Carolina Republican Party, he said, for the event. They had good seats.
Prior to the rally, Shimmy (who declined to give his last name) told BuzzFeed News that he hadn't made up his mind who he would vote for. "I'm a registered Democrat," he said. "My friends are Trump supporters."
"I would vote for Hillary if it weren't for her VP pick," he said. "I don't like him, nor his record with women, nor Israel." And that troubled him, he said, because of the potential for Tim Kaine to end up in the Oval Office.
"Hillary is not young, and if something happens and she has to step down, I can't imagine him being president," he said.
During the Concord rally, Shimmy and his friends sat in a prominent place behind Trump — with Shimmy occasionally holding up his Democrat for Trump sign. It's the kind of counterintuitive theatrical flourish Trump loves. At another point in the rally Trump held up, and walked around with, a Hispanics for Trump sign.
Afterward, in the parking lot, BuzzFeed News caught up with Shimmy and his friends. None would give their full names, and one declined to speak at all. Another, Mayer, who said he also goes by his stage name Maylow, described himself as a longtime Trump supporter.
"I'm here today because one of my biggest heroes for business is this man here," said Mayer. When he walks around New York, he said, "I pass 15 buildings with his name on them, they may not all be his, but they have his name on them." And with that, the friends were whisked away by a companion, off to another rally.
And as for Shimmy the undecided? "I'm voting for Trump."