NEW YORK — Has anyone noticed?

If the presidential race were baseball, then what’s shaping up would be called a Subway Series. But instead of the Mets and the Yankees, we’re getting Trump and (maybe) Bloomberg of Manhattan, Sanders of Brooklyn and Clinton who is headquartered in the same borough. New York is back — once again the “mudder” of presidents, in the local vernacular.

Virginia used to be called the Mother of Presidents, but that was back in the Washington-Jefferson-Madison-Monroe days. I’ll even throw in John Tyler, and maybe Zachary Taylor and William Henry Harrison, but that’s where the line ends. Woodrow Wilson was born in Virginia, but he went to the White House from New Jersey, where he was the governor. With that — Chris Christie, take note — Joisey went kaput.

Of course, New York has always been important. It gave a grateful nation the Roosevelts, TR and FDR — and they account for almost six terms of the presidency. Before that came New Yorkers no one ever heard of — Millard Fillmore, Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland and Martin Van Buren. Their greatness has yet to be appreciated.

So how did New York come roaring back? The answer — Trump, pay attention — is migration. Hillary Clinton was born in Illinois and spent much of her adulthood in Arkansas. But after she and Bill Clinton left the White House, she ran for the Senate from New York and won. This is not as strange as it may seem. Robert F. Kennedy did something similar. The very epitome of a Massachusetts kind of guy by birth and accent, he nevertheless came to New York after leaving Washington, ran for the Senate and, as you know, won. At his death, he was a New Yorker.

I should note that Dwight Eisenhower ran for the presidency from New York, where he had been president of Columbia University. He was born in Texas and raised in Kansas, but he left for the White House from Manhattan. Ike’s somewhat controversial vice president, Richard Nixon, also moved to New York after losing the presidency (and the governorship of California) and set up a law practice in Manhattan. It is where he worked when he once again ran for the White House and, unaccountably, won.

New York has something of a tradition of this sort of thing. In 1944 and 1948, the Republican presidential candidate was Thomas Dewey, governor of the state and once the crime-busting district attorney of Manhattan. True to form, Dewey had been born west of the Hudson, in Michigan.

Mike Bloomberg is yet another immigrant. He hails from Massachusetts and while he has recently learned to speak Spanish, he has not yet learned to speak New York. Still, his Bay State accent is acceptable to New Yorkers who, out of tradition and the lessons of history, embrace newcomers, especially — as it turns out — if they become billionaires. (Maybe that’s what Ted Cruz means by “New York values.”) By now, Bloomberg has to be considered a true New Yorker. He was, of course, the city’s mayor for three terms. But unlike his predecessors Fiorello La Guardia or Ed Koch, he has yet to have anything major named for him. If he gets to the White House, this could change.

Bernie Sanders is a somewhat problematical New Yorker. After all, he left the city for Vermont, which is where some New Yorkers go in the summer, but he reportedly stayed and became mayor of Burlington and then senator. He is so unredeemably a Vermonter that it is hard to count him as a New Yorker — hard, but not impossible. Residence aside, he carries the city with him wherever he goes — that accent, the waving of his arms and, if I may say so, a quaint, leftist ideology once common in Brooklyn but which died out about the time the Dodgers absconded for Los Angeles. If he ain’t New Yawk, den nobody iz.

As for Trump, The Donald is a product of Queens. The name Trump — father and son — is on a hospital there, but it is in Manhattan where his egomania can be appreciated — hotels, apartment houses, skating rinks. You name it. Trump, Trump and more Trump.

So there you have it — a subway presidential race. The city of immigrants, the city of people from elsewhere, is likely to claim the next president. Ya wanna know why? I’ll tell ya. Hit it, Frank!

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Richard Cohen is a columnist for The Washington Post. His email address is: [email protected]


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