Carl Paladino and Michael Caputo are tied by history, friendship and politics. When Paladino ran for New York State governor in 2010, Caputo was his campaign manager and PR man. When Paladino signed on to help organize statewide support for Trump's presidential campaign, he asked Caputo to help.
Now both men are working the Republican National Convention this week. But they bring different emotional energy to the job.
Paladino couldn't be more enthusiastic about networking and strategizing Trump's presidential victory.
"I enjoy this stuff, and I think this is a great day for America," he said. "We’re making history. I don’t think there’s any greater pleasure of that."
Meanwhile, Caputo, a veteran political consultant and PR man, looks at the convention whirlwind surrounding him and wistfully thinks about lost opportunities.
"It’s bittersweet," he said of his time in Cleveland so far. "Every day I wake up here is difficult."
Caputo was in line to become director of media communications at the Republican National Convention, but he dutifully gave up that job after tweeting a post likening former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski to the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz last month after the campaign manager was fired.
— Michael Caputo (@MichaelRCaputo) June 20, 2016
Caputo submitted his resignation after the ensuing, and unwanted, media attention. It's a mark of Caputo's antipathy for Lewandowski that he never took the Twitter post down.
Now, Caputo says, he's filled with mixed emotions: Pride in the convention staffers helping to run the show this week -- many of whom he said he has personal ties with -- and disappointment that he isn't playing the media communications role he had hoped to play as a Trump insider.
"These are all my old friends," Caputo said of the convention staff. "Most of these people here, I hired. To leave something so immense, so suddenly, it’s left a mark."
That's doesn't mean Caputo has been downcast and idle. He's been busy serving as a political pundit with the gathered media and catching up with buddies.
Paladino, meanwhile, is catching up with county Republican Party leaders across the state as they coordinate efforts to drive Trump supporters to the polls in November. The fact that most of them are at the convention makes the job much more convenient, he said, but not less taxing.
"It sucks up a good part of my day," he said. "I’ve been here five days, and it feels like I’ve been here three months."
It's all worth it, though, Paladino said: "This is an American revolution that we’re planning."
Aside from meeting with county party leaders and members of Trump's central staff, Paladino has also been run ragged with media interviews and long walks between the convention arena and his hotel, which are nearly a mile apart. Fortunately, he's a heavy sleeper.
"I sleep like a rock," he said. "At the end day, I’m shot."
As for Caputo, Paladino said he's had many conversations with him at the convention and recognizes that Caputo's feeling conflicted about being there. But Trump is a loyal man, Paladino said, and the last thing he wanted to do was let Lewandowski go. When Caputo stomped on the man in social media after he was fired, there were bound to be consequences.
"It was just bad timing by Mike," Paladino said. "He should have known better."
But Paladino said Caputo is doing the right thing by being at the convention and doing what he can to help the Trump campaign from the outside.
"Mike’s out here, staying in touch, as he should be," he said. "You just don’t know. It’s best he waits it out, and hopefully there’ll be some forgiveness in the future."