Sure, he’s from Philly, so he’s absolutely, totally completely opinionated. But unlike our presidential candidates he’s also refreshingly likeable.
Late in the summer, Dom Giordano, talking to listeners on his WPHT radio show, sounded befuddled when discussing the remaining presidential candidates.
How, Giordano wondered, did we get to this point, where THESE are the four survivors out of 320 million people?
America is wondering the same thing, based on a Monmouth University poll taken about the same time Giordano expressed his frustration.
The poll showed that the top two candidates—Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump—are not making people feel warm and fuzzy, like they felt about, say, Jack Kennedy or Ronald Reagan. Trump’s lack of humanity and Clinton’s scandals have apparently taken a toll on their popularity.
Only 34 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of Clinton, the Monmouth poll showed. That seemed like rock-bottom until you realized only 26 percent thought favorably about Trump.
“We have never in our history been at this point, where the unfavorable ratings of these two candidates are off the charts; it’s unprecedented,” said Giordano in an interview in early September.”…It’s a real race to the bottom for these two.”
The other two candidates—Libertarian Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein—aren’t thrilling voters, either.
All of which is good fodder for the likeable Giordano, a veteran talk-show host who can be heard on 1210-AM from 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays. Giordano is opinionated, but not threatening or overbearing. He doesn’t possess a “my-way-or-highway” attitude; instead, he has a refreshing give-and-take with his listeners.
In recent months, Giordano and his listeners have discussed numerous topics, from Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a $15 an-hour minimum-wage bill, from Penn State honoring the late Joe Paterno to a tweeting controversy surrounding an Ursinus College board of trustees member.
None of the conversations, however, triggered the animated dialogue produced by the antics of Trump and Clinton.
Giordano, whose son, D.J., works as a research assistant for him, has captivated his audience with never-ending material on the two candidates. There’s Clinton’s health issues, her e-mail scandal, and her “basket of deplorables” comment about Trump supporters. There’s Trump promising to build a Great Wall of Mexico, changing his campaign leaders late in the race, and making a weekly (daily?) statement that makes eyes roll.
Giordano is in Trump’s corner. When guest Lou Dobbs tore into Clinton—calling her aloof, and saying she was a liar, and had an “extraordinary sense of entitlement”—Giordano was in agreement.
“I think that’s very, very accurate,” he said.
Giordano laughed out loud when Dobbs criticized Johnson—who was in the news for not knowing Aleppo was a city hit hard in Syria’s civil war—and said he “smokes dope every day and obviously doesn’t retain much of what he has heard.”
Added Dobbs, who anchors a show on the Fox Business Network: “If we persist in having these types of candidates, whether they be Gary Johnson, who has no clue as to what is going on…it’s the rest of the country that needs to go on daily doses of marijuana because we’re going to be in desperate need of medication.”
On the air, Giordano called Dobbs’ tirade “brilliant.” He then agreed when Dobbs claimed that if Clinton got into the White House it would “doom the nation.”
Some, of course, have the same feelings about a potential Trump presidency. Giordano, 67, realizes that, and admits there are times he is “conflicted” in this bizarre race.
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“There’s a multitude of reasons for how we got to this point,” he said, referring to the final presidential field. “For one, we know the Democratic system was rigged to favor Hillary Clinton because of her pedigree and because of the power of her husband and her power over a period of time. We know it was rigged by the emails that have been out there, that they deep-sixed Bernie Sanders.
“With Trump, he is the ultimate disrupter,” Giordano added. “The biggest story in this election cycle has been….the conservative base erupting against the Republican establishment.”
Giordano, a part-time teacher at the Community College of Philadelphia, said some “great candidates” like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were bypassed. “Rubio would have won this (presidential) race in a heartbeat. I was close to, and really liked, Rand Paul. And Scott Walker was a man of tremendous accomplishments,” he said. “And they went for a guy, Trump, who was this tremendous eruptive force, as maybe a pushback—maybe even a thumb in the eye to all other things. That’s the story of this election.”
Trump’s unpredictability has made this a fun and entertaining race to cover, Giordano said. “But it’s also draining because inside talk-radio, there’s quite a bit of back-and-forth over Trump because I don’t think he represents limited government and conservative values.”
“He’s brought a lot of people in that Republicans are happy to see, the white working-class that’s been left out.” Giordano said.
Though Giordano supports Trump and believes he gained lots of momentum by visiting Mexico (home of the people he has mocked) late in the summer, he isn’t reluctant to disagree with him.
“Just the other day, I had some unbelievable back-and-forth with callers,” he said. “They were attacking John McCain because Trump said he hasn’t done enough for the veterans. I mean, John McCain has a gravitas second to no one I have ever met. I’ve been around him three times and he creaks when he walks (because of war injuries). I don’t think anybody has the stature to take on John McCain on issues affecting veterans. My God, that’s insane, and I said that on the air.”
Giordano, an avid reader and diehard Philly sports fan who likes to golf, play tennis and run/jog during his spare time, says he has “arrived at a place where I want Trump to win because of Hillary’s obvious corruption” and because he is afraid of what might happen to the Supreme Court if Clinton won.
“From my point of view, if Hillary gets to appoint three or four people to the Supreme Court, they will destroy the Second Amendment—the individual right to bear arms—and any number of other things,” he said. “So my hope is that Trump will not be so bad on the other issues, and will appoint Supreme Court justices [that are better equipped].”
Trump has shown little humanity. He criticized McCain for being a former prisoner of war (“I like people who weren’t captured”) and mocked the mother of a slain Muslim American soldier. Does it concern Giordano to potentially have a compassion-challenged person running the country?
“That is an issue, but I don’t see Mrs. Clinton being very authentic, either,” he said. “Yes, it is important in a president and I’m very conflicted. If I had a dollar for every conflicted email, Facebook post, or call that I get about Trump, [I’d be rich]. As I said, this is a race to the bottom.”
Giordano thinks Trump “either wins in Pennsylvania or loses by under two percent.” The state has voted for the Democratic candidate during the last six presidential elections.
“Trump is such a wildcard in a lot of parts in the state—even in Philadelphia, he’s going to do better than a (Mitt) Romney or a McCain,” said Giordano, whom Trump once invited to play at his Pine Hill, NJ, golf course. “He is a celebrity, he has an appeal that’s different. Mrs. Clinton’s issue is simple: Can she get excitement going?”
In 2012, President Obama received about 85 percent of the votes in Philadelphia, walloping Romney.
“Mrs. Clinton will come nowhere near that,” Giordano said. “She has the excitement challenge. And Trump has the challenge of suburban women, college-educated, particularly here in the four counties around Philadelphia. They don’t like him at this point, and he has to win enough of them to counter this.”
Giordano believes Pennsylvania (20 electoral votes) is in the “top two or three states” whose outcome will decide the overall election. The polls have been close, but Trump is fighting huge odds because Democrats hold a 919,000-voter registration edge over Republicans.
In New Jersey, which has 14 electoral votes, Giordano sees Clinton winning in a landslide.
A Republican presidential candidate hasn’t won Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 1988, when the states helped George H.W. Bush take the election.
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As far as picking this year’s overall winner, “the fundamentals are there for Hillary Clinton,” Giordano said before adding, “I would give Trump a puncher’s chance. The electoral map adds up for Hillary Clinton. The Democrats have a lock on California, New York, but….”
There is something about Trump that makes Giordano believe an upset is possible.
“I wouldn’t call it an ‘outside’ chance for Trump, but I’d call it a ‘reasonable’ chance,” he said. In some polls, “Ronald Reagan was behind Jimmy Carter until the Sunday before the big election in 1980—and then it broke right for him.”
It will be a “relatively close” race, Giordano predicted. “It’s Hillary’s race to lose, but she’s on her way to losing it.”
He said if Trump can be relatively gaffe-free down the stretch—and continues his campaign’s new strategy by displaying more substance than bluster—he could shock the world.
No matter who wins, Giordano will be happy behind a WPHT microphone. He said the station has become a bigger player because of resources provided by David Yadgaroff, the CBS Philadelphia market manager, and Jared Hart, 1210’s program director.
“What’s thrilling about this job is you never know what’s going to come up,” Giordano said, noting he once did a political-based interview with Cher. “Here’s the essence of my job: In one week, I got to judge a seven-hour Miss Kensington contest, and the very same week I got to interview Dick Cheney after he had the heart problem during the recount of 2000.”
There was another time he got to interview Kissinger and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel on consecutive segments.
“Where else, but on talk radio, do you have Henry Kissinger followed by Charlie Manuel?” Giordano cracked. “When you can handle those two back-to-back, you know you’ve arrived in talk radio.”
Photographs by Josh Chiu