When the majority of media outlets called the presidential election for Joe Biden, the news was almost dwarfed by people making fun of Donald Trump. Early Saturday, the soon-to-be former commander-in-chief — who’d spent the days since Tuesday’s election spreading baseless conspiracy theories about voter fraud — announced a last-minute press conference, to be held at the Four Seasons in Philadelphia. He then corrected himself: He didn’t mean the upscale hotel. He meant…a landscaping company. And it wasn’t in scenic Center City; it was in the metropolis’ northeast, beside a sex shop and a crematorium.
It was a fitting farewell to a presidency that was by turns disastrous, nightmarish, and just plain weird, filled with surreal incidents such as him “declaring” victory over states he hadn’t won over Twitter. As celebrations filled the streets of the nation’s cities, people took the time to mock what appeared to be a gaffe. Some speculated that a staffer had accidentally booked the wrong place, expecting to get one of the city’s tonier hotels and instead getting a random parking lot, far from the action. But the real story about why they wound up at the Four Seasons Total Landscaping, as reported by The New York Times, is much more mundane:
In reality, the mistake was not in the booking, but in a garbled game of telephone. Mr. Giuliani and the Trump campaign adviser Corey Lewandowski told the president on Saturday morning their intended location for the news conference and he misunderstood, assuming it was an upscale hotel, according to multiple people familiar with the matter.
Of course, why single out a random landscaping company, especially one with such a familiar name? That, so far, has not been explained. But the idea, The Times reports, was always to keep Trump — or at least his cronies, chief among them personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as POTUS himself was, of course, busy playing golf — away from Biden-friendly downtown Philadelphia. Instead, they sought a “friendlier part of town.” And that’s why the president’s bumbling attorney wound up babbling conspiracy theories in a parking lot in a far-flung section of the nation’s birthplace.
The presser wound up starting right after news of the Biden win broke. In fact, it was scheduled for 11:30am and CNN first called the race for Biden at around 11:25. Though a handful of locals with “Trump-Pence” signs showed up, as per The Philadelphia Inquirer, they were soon drowned out by the honking horns of jubilant Biden-Harris supporters.
Cars with Biden/Harris signs honk and drive past the crowd of Trump supporters at Four Seasons, shouting “Black Lives Matter.”
Trump supporters started to sing “God Bless America.” pic.twitter.com/pCW0jyiShc
— Oona Goodin-Smith (@oonagoodinsmith) November 7, 2020
The Inquirer also reports that, by the next day, the small business had already achieved mythic, or at least comic, status, with people flocking to its barbed-wire gates to take selfies. The staff of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, though, remained “perplexed” by their moment of social media infamy:
Kevin Moran, a foreman at the firm, simply shrugged when approached while opening the gate to the parking lot on Sunday. He said his boss got the call from Trump campaign staffers Saturday morning and thought they must have found the business on Google and been interested because it was a “secure location” set off from the street by a security fence.
Still, while the neighborhood, Mayfair, had achieved national attention for maybe the first time in recorded history, the Inquirer reports that it did not lead to a spike in business. In fact, the influx of people, from Trump staffers to reporters to gawking chuckleheads grabbing Instagram pics, did little more than take up parking spots, frustrating locals.
One person not amused was the 78-year-old employee working the counter of the Fantasy Island sex shop next to the (other) Four Seasons. He said the phone had been ringing off the hook with people calling to ask, “Is Rudy Giuliani there?”
So who can he blame? Giuliani and Corey Lewandowski for not clarifying to Trump which Philadelphia Four Seasons they would be visiting. But the fault still mostly falls on Trump, who, given his finances, should probably get used to not always assuming he’ll be patronizing upscale hotels.