"Hillary Clinton is like a godmother," Evelio Medina says, chuckling. "She created us."
Trump got crushed in Miami-Dade on Election Day, but that doesn't mean he doesn't have die-hard backers in this blue county — few more vocal than Medina, who has embraced Clinton's use of "deplorables" to describe the miasma of alt-right, Nazi-baiting trolls who backed Trump on Twitter.
The 52-year-old founder of the Downtown Miami & Brickell Chamber of Commerce has organized a "Deplorables Inaugural Ball" for the night before Trump's inauguration.
"If it would have been Hillary, it would have been Beyoncé and Marc Anthony," Medina says. "This is the Deplorables Ball; we've got deplorables, we the people — that's our thing."
Medina is more than just a businessman fanboy, though: He's a former Hialeah city councilman who was accused of using gay smears to defeat an opponent and criticized by the Miami Herald editorial board as being an "affable businessman" who "speaks in generalities" instead of having concrete plans. Sounds familiar.
Medina was born in Pinar del Río, Cuba, and was first elected to the Hialeah City Council in 1989 and spent 19 months there before he lost a reelection race. He ran again in 1999, in a significantly controversial race.
During the campaign, flyers appeared around town that hinted his opponent, Rene Garcia — who had formerly been a model — was gay. Here's how the Herald described the dustup:
When Garcia ran for the Hialeah City Council against Evelio Medina, a Perez ally, modeling photos of Garcia alongside an article questioning his sexual orientation were distributed on street corners throughout the city.
"If it was true, that's fine, I wouldn't care," Garcia told the Miami Herald in 2000, "but it is all lies and part of a dirty campaign."
The Herald editorial board recommended against Medina, who lost the race.
Medina says he jumped on the "Trump train" soon after the Donald came down an escalator in his New York hotel to announce his presidential campaign — and notably called Mexican immigrants "rapists."
"He had to go counter to everything you could think of for politicians," Medina says. "He couldn't be nice like Bush or young and pretty and smiling like Marcito. So he understands being an actor, but he's more than an actor: He understands human nature; he understands how to pull the strings of human nature."
Despite being an immigrant himself, Medina says he's unconcerned by Trump's anti-immigration rhetoric. He dismisses the "Grab them by the pussy" tape, saying he doesn't believe in treating women that way but that he believes the media fanned the flames of a bogus controversy.
One of the things Medina likes about Trump is that he's rough around the edges. Trump has been divorced; so have many Americans, Medina reasons. Trump has been bankrupt; well, "the rest of America is too."
"He cusses; most people in America cuss," Medina says. "Dammit, this guy is my boy. He's not that bad. He says things that I want to. I want to tell the media they're a bunch of cracks; he does it. That's my guy!"
After Trump's victory, Medina headed to an anti-Trump rally in the streets of downtown Miami. He turned on Facebook Live and gleefully told protesters: "Get a job!" "¡Viva Trump!" and "Deplorable lives matter!"
Trump's election has given people a sense of pride in America again, Medina says, and he loves that.
Last month, he uploaded a video about the Deplorables Inaugural Ball from the chamber of commerce's YouTube account. "It is our duty and responsibility to help President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence make America great again," Medina intoned.
He's not the only one to capitalize on the idea. A number of deplorable-themed parties are set for next week, including the "DeploraBall," a sold-out event that's been busy trying to distance itself from the alt-right. ("Moms from the Midwest are flying out for this," an organizer assured the Washington Post.)
Tickets to the Deplorables Inaugural Ball, which will feature dinner, drinks, and performances by Miami singer Lucy Grau and Nashville country/rock band Saints of Havana, don't come cheap. General admission will set you back $500, VIP tickets cost $1,000, and VIP table seating is a $10,000 splurge.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
"Everybody wants free," Medina says when asked about the price. "They got used to this free business!"
He promises a special night and a ball like none of the rest. He says about 400 tickets have been snapped up in the week he's been selling them. There's room for 2,000 attendees.
After Medina heard the "deplorables" term, he hurried to buy the domain names deplorablesnation.com and deplorablesnation.org. He wasn't sure what to do with them until he had the idea for the ball. Money earned from the ball will go back to Deplorables Nation, which he says will help advance Trump's platform.
"It doesn't end with a party," he says. "It begins with a party."