Presidential candidate Donald Trump’s biggeat supporter in Princeton is a man named Lee Eric Newton who has become a fixture on Nassau Street, sitting in front of the Fitzrandolph Gate holding Trump/Pence campaign signs on most days.
Newton, who grew up in Princeton, is a businessman who is fluent in Mandarin. The 52-year-old is also a single father who has been battling cancer for the past six years. He lives on Alexander Road, where his Trump signs are prominently displayed and often snatched. He promptly replaces the signs, determined not to let others take away his first amendment right to freedom of speech, he says.
Sometimes as people pass him, they yell profanities, give him the finger, or call him a racist. “They don’t even know me or my family history,” says Newton, who attended the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church as a child and whose father helped build the first interracial middle-class housing development in Princeton.
This Monday afternoon was different. Leon Rainbow, an artist who works at a graphic design firm in downtown Princeton, stopped by to chat with Newton and recorded their conversation. Both were surprised by the civil but lively discussion they had.
“He was not like some of the university and town people, even the elderly, who yell profanities at me,” Newton says.
Rainbow says he appreciated the opportunity to try to understand an opposing point of view.
“Although we are never going to see eye to eye, I respect him for having an open dialog with me,” Rainbow says. “I walk by him on my break and see him outside of his house with Trump signs. I could not simply walk by anymore.”