Even though Donald Trump has left Atlantic City, his name still adorns the Trump Taj Mahal and has the power to provoke strong reactions from residents and visitors.
The name of the Republican presidential candidate is still displayed in bold letters on the hotel-casino, which was once part of his Atlantic City empire and is now owned by billionaire Carl Icahn. And Trump’s face appears on a plaque by a fountain outside.
The Taj Mahal is where Jane Brun, 60, usually stays when she travels to Atlantic City from Brooklyn — and one reason, she says, is its association with Trump.
“I love him,” Brun said. “He stands for making America great again. He represents the people like me, the hardworking community.”
On the Boardwalk outside the casino, Billy Murtha, 56, of Williamstown, N.J., said he was planning to vote in his first Republican primary.
"The first time I ever registered was this year, to vote for Trump," he said. "We need a change."
Murtha said he didn’t fault Trump for the city’s economic struggles, and that other casinos in the region had taken business away.
"I think you’ve got to give him a shot," Murtha said. "I think he’s better than Clinton for sure."
Sandy Lewis of Brooklyn, 57, said she felt Trump “talks a lot of nothing.”
“What is your hope for the country? I haven’t gotten that,” she added. “What I’ve gotten is a lot of insults, a lot of stupid talk, a lot of division. Is that what you really want for the United States of America?”
Arcadia Ridley of Atlantic City, 25, said she finds some of Trump’s comments “distasteful” and said his history in the city gave her doubts.
“He wants to run for president, but you couldn’t even run, I think, three casinos in Atlantic City?” she said.
At Mehfil Restaurant across the street from the Trump Taj Mahal, employees Haider Raza, 19, and Hamad Hasan, 21, spoke positively about Trump’s business experience but said they dislike some of his views, particularly on immigrants and Muslims.
Raza said business at the restaurant, which his father owns, has declined as Atlantic City casinos — Trump’s and others — have closed.
Nevertheless, he and Hasan, both Democrats, said they might consider Trump in the general election.
"Maybe he could help in some ways but in other ways he could just be too extreme," Raza said.
"He may be a good candidate because we do need a really big change in our political system," Hasan added.