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Workers split with retirees over Donald Trump in Florida

Brittany Mazziotto of The Villages, FLA.

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THE VILLAGES, FL — Dakota Schwab was born and raised in Florida, and now spends her days serving Sunshine State retirees in The Villages, the largest retirement community in the United States.

“They are really set in their old ways. And Trump is like if you like your old ways, I will give you old ways,” explains Schwab, a 22-year-old waitress at the restaurant Red Sauce in The Villages. “It is ridiculous in my opinion.”

The energetic redhead stands by the vote she cast for Obama in 2012, but is unsure about who she’ll in November. The Villages’ many Trumplovers don’t take that indecision or her criticisms of the candidate well, so she tries to avoid political discussion with her tables.

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Dakota Schwab of The Villages, FLA. 

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“I just want to be like what answer is going to give me a better tip,” explains Schwab, who doesn’t want to “piss anybody off.” But at Red Sauce they pay $5.03 an hour, plus tips, which means that gratuity is important to Schwab. She does recall one time when a group of ladies kept pestering her and she finally told them she was undecided. One of the ladies immediately tried to entice Schwab by comparing Trump to Ronald Reagan. 

Schwab says she couldn’t take it, and had to walk away.

In contrast to retirees who fawn over the “gorgeous” Trump family, Schwab does not find Trump’s family to be admirable in any way. “His son shoots elephants and giraffes. Are you really that bored with your life?” Schwab says. 

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David Sylvia rides his golf cart in The Villages, Fla.

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Schwab is not alone in her wavering views or her keen awareness of the Trump craze that encircles the tables she is waiting on.

Views among restaurant workers in The Villages are messy: some are unenthusiastically for Clinton, others long for Sanders, some are cautiously for Trump, many are undecided. 

As a whole, their views don’t fit well with the Trump fanatics they are serving. It’s no surprise that the retirees are siding with the Republican nominee -- this a GOP stronghold that voted overwhelmingly for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012. And the residents of The Villages are passionate, with some going so far as to say that America will “lose it’s way” if Trump is not elected. 

“I think this is our last chance to really save our country because if [Hillary Clinton] gets in America as we know it is gone,” Elaine Mysliwiac, a 72-year-old Villages retiree who sports a Trump sign on her golf cart, told CBS News. 

Some of the restaurant workers, however, believe the exact opposite, a contrast that reflects how politically divided Florida is this election.

Philip Spencer, an African-American New Yorker who now works in the kitchen in The Villages, is behind Clinton because he is worried that Trump will “blow everything up.”

“Poor Hillary. Still devastated by Monica Lewinsky, but I will vote for her,” says the 46-year-old Spencer in a low-pitched voice as he chops vegetables. “Next thing she is in the White House smoking weed. I love that lady,” Spencer murmers to his fellow kitchen-worker, Dylan Mikester, a 24-year-old Floridian who does not like Trump “at all.”

Both of them struggle to process the political views of retirees in The Village.

“They are crazy. This country is crazy,” Spencer, who sometimes goes by Junior, says of the Trump supporters in The Village and across the country.

But he does not fight them. After all, just 25 percent of retiree-heavy Sumpter County is employed in the workforce, so Spencer and his fellow restaurant workers are in the minority.

“They have their right to their own opinions. You have your opinion. I have mine,” Spencer explains. “I don’t want to get old and be like that” he says of Village retirees who “drink all day.” 

Just minutes after he says that, 74-year-old Al Dean walks by in a golf-shirt and wallows “Hey, Junior!”

“We play a lot of golf, drink a lot of beer, have a lot of fun, go a lot of places with the wife for dinner. Have happy, happy, happy times,” explains Dean, whose eyes have glazed over after some post-golf beers. Before The Villages, his life was spent brewing beer for Budweiser in New Jersey. “This whole community is a Republican community,” he says.

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Brittany Mazziotto of The Villages, FLA.

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For Dean’s golf group, the “Bandits East,” and many social circles in The Villages, drinking is an all-day affair.

“We don’t do anything sober,” one retiree explains gleefully. In most places, happy hour starts at 3 p.m. Lunchtime alcohol specials differ based on the venue: at the Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille they serve fresh $4 margaritas at lunch, while the Palmer Country Club serves lemondrops and martinis as midday favorites.

At noon on a Tuesday, Jessica Jasper’s co-worker walks by with a tray full of martinis for elder ladies on the sun-kissed patio who are talking about Trump’s good looks. Jasper, 23, who is working full-time at the Arnold Palmer Legends Country Club as a bartender and waitress, pours beers for men in their 70’s who have just finished 18 holes. They, too, are Trump fans. 

Jasper, a Floridian and registered Democrat, says she will definitely vote, but is not sure if Clinton or Trump will get her support.

“There are things I know that are good about both of them and things I know that are bad about both of them so it is hard to decide,” explains Jasper, adding that her dad and her grandfather were Democrats and that she does not agree with Trump on immigration.

Behind the counter at Ambrosia on the Square there is more indecision from Brittany Mazziotto as she serves up lime soft-serve.

“Trump is a racist and Clinton is under investigation,” explains Mazziotto, who will be voting for the first time in November. She doesn’t feel the need to assert her views of Clinton because “everyone already thinks she is a liar.” 

When it comes to Trump, Mazziotto stays quiet, too. Why? Because she says many of the old folks are racist themselves, “so they support that.”