They were right. Donald J. Trump’s foremost boosters in Buffalo — Carl P. Paladino, Rep. Chris Collins and Michael R. Caputo — were right.
All three steadfastly insisted for months that Trump would win the presidency. And after Trump’s surprise victory in the presidential race, each in his own way rejoiced in the outcome and, in interviews, explained what it meant.
At the New York Hilton in Manhattan in the early morning hours Wednesday, Paladino expressed his joy into a cell phone amid a raucous victory celebration.
“America will be a better place for the next four years because of this,” said Paladino, the Buffalo developer, school board member and 2010 GOP candidate for governor. “The middle class will no longer be marginalized and the establishment is finished. The old boy network of the Republican and Democratic parties is also finished.”
Now that Paladino’s ally and soul mate is set to become president, Paladino could not help but try to settle one last score against the vanquished Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Hillary is going to jail,” Paladino added, “and all is right with the world.”
Paladino’s comment echoed the “lock her up” chants at Trump rallies, which resulted largely from Clinton’s much-criticized decision to use a private emails server while serving as secretary of state.
In contrast, Collins — the first House member to endorse Trump — was largely diplomatic in his comments the morning after Trump won the presidency.
The Clarence Republican likened Trump’s win to Collins’ own 2007 victory in the race for Erie County executive. He said Trump tapped into public disgust with government and regulations and, especially, Obamacare.
“Donald Trump motivated people who may have sat home in the past to say: ‘My God, here finally is somebody I believe in’,” Collins said. “You knew what he stood for, and in the end, nobody knew what Hillary stood for except for status quo and more of the same.”
Meantime, many Republicans who may have opposed Trump initially went in the voting booth and decided they couldn’t vote for “the Clinton cartel, the Clinton machine,” he said.
Collins also said he expects Trump to be far less aggressive on the immigration issue than he was early in his campaign, when he vowed that the nation’s 11 million undocumented aliens would be deported if he were to be elected.
“He is going to deport the criminal element of the illegal immigrants who are here,” but will otherwise develop a less draconian immigration policy, Collins predicted.
“We’re not going to be rounding them up,” Collins said. “There’s no deportation force.”
Trump called Collins Wednesday and the two men spoke for about 10 minutes. Trump thanked Collins for his support, and they then talked about the first days of the coming Trump administration and the congressional agenda for 2017.
Meanwhile, Caputo — the East Aurora political consultant who served on the Trump campaign staff earlier this year — revealed that Trump told him in 2013 that he would run for president this year and win.
He also said Trump told him he would do it his way.
“‘I’m going to declare and they’re all going to discount it,’” Caputo quoted Trump as saying. “‘But I will get so much earned media coverage that I’ll take all the oxygen out of the room.”
Caputo said Trump knew from the start he would not listen to the usual consultants, not spend millions on commercials, and not bow to party officials.
“Basically,” Caputo said, “he said ‘I’m not going to do it the way anybody ever did it before, and I’m going to win’.”
Watching Trump enact the plan he spelled out three years ago, Caputo learned a lesson.
“I grew to understand nobody knows the media as Donald Trump does,” Caputo said. “I’ve never seen anybody as adept at it. Nobody. He just gets it.”