Shoot ‘Baby Trump’? NJ group raises enough to buy 4 balloons
BEDMINSTER — A plan to bring a giant balloon portraying President Donald Trump as a cartoonish baby to New Jersey is proving to be as divisive as the president himself. But organizers say they are not dissuaded from their goal.
A GoFundMe started over the weekend with a goal of raising $4,000 to bring the balloon from Britain, where it first appeared during Trump's visit, raised close to $24,000 before it was done. Jim Girvan, one of the organizers of the effort here in New Jersey, said the additional funding will allow them to make four diaper-clad presidential balloons.
"We feel it is very representative of our president's behavior as a petulant child and we thought it belonged here in the States," he said about the ballon, which wears a diaper and is holding a cellphone.
Not everyone is in favor of the balloons. Many comments on a weekend story posted by New Jersey 101.5 discussed a desire to see the balloon shot down. Manchester resident Kathie Kitt Conklin has taken that effort a step further and is raising money for bail should she be arrested for shooting the balloon.
"I'm tired of people disrespecting our president!," Conklin said on her own GoFundMe campaign before it was taken down. "I plan on taking out this ridiculous balloon, but as everyone is aware, Trump supporters end up in Jail while liberals walk away with not even a slap on the wrist."
As of Thursday morning Conklin has raised $55 out of a $1,000 goal. Messages seeking comment from Conklin were not returned as of Thursday.
The fundraising effort got donations from as far away as Hawaii, and while the balloons may not make it that far, Girvan said having the four inflatables will allow them to take their message not only to Trump's club in Somerset County but around the country as well.
There are no definitive plans about where the balloon will go and when, but Girvan said wherever they go they will ensure the balloon abides by all the local and federal laws.
One of the locations will certainly be Trump National in Bedminster where the president is known to spend time during the summer. Bedminster township administrator Judith Sullivan said she was "99 percent sure we don't have anything on the books" when it comes to regulating a balloon like the baby Trump, but said there are also other regulations to consider.
This includes a temporary flight restriction put in place by the FAA, which affects the air space around the club in Somerset Hills. New Jersey 101.5 called the FAA to learn whether the balloon would be impacted by the restriction, and was directed to the Secret Service to learn more. The Secret Service did not respond to a message seeking comment.
Girvan said he did not believe the balloon would be affected by the restriction because it doesn't fly very far off the ground.
"As long as it's high enough and visible enough, that's fine with us," he said." We'll make sure that we are compliant with all federal regulations."
Girvan said the level of negative reaction to the balloon is an indication of just how divided the country is "that someone feels so strongly that they would suggest an illegal act to stop someone from speaking or expressing themselves as they have a right to do."
Since they announced the plan to bring the balloons to the country, Girvan said they have gotten inquiries from New York City and the Jersey Shore to bring the balloons down there. He said the goal is to have the balloons ready to fly by the middle of next month. When the balloons do take flight, Girvan said they will be used to spread a message for many years to come.
"I'm not under any allusion that it's going to get him out of office before 2020, but he's obviously running again," Girvan said. "It serves to continue expressing our disdain for him. I'm hoping as far as his 2020 race it will be a symbol of what he really is."