Westmoreland County house painted to promote Trump
Leslie Baum Rossi didn’t just settle for a lawn signs touting presidential candidate Donald Trump while promoting local delegates for the Republican national convention in the days leading up to Tuesday’s primary election.
She painted the facade of a vacant two-story house she owns in Youngstown to look like a flag and camped out there with family members to hand out delegate cards to motorists captivated by the star-spangled home on Route 982.
“It made them pay attention,” Rossi said of the motorists who stopped for a closer look at the house. “I got my point across, and it worked.”
The Trump delegates she supported — John Petrarca, Justin DePlato and Thomas J. Uram — were the top three vote-getters among 11 seeking to represent the 18th district at the convention, according to unofficial Westmoreland County primary results.
But her efforts didn’t just capture the attention of area voters — it made national news. And when she posted a cable television news clip about her home on Facebook, it went viral.
“I had 1,300 hits in a few hours,” she said. “A lot of people in my community who didn’t know me, know me now.”
Rossi buys and renovates rental properties with her husband, Mike, through their Crystal Creek Management business. The Rossi family also operates Westmoreland Mechanical Testing and Research, with offices in Youngstown and Great Britain.
Rossi said Trump won her over early in his campaign with his opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. When she signed up to volunteer at Trump’s Monroeville campaign office, she became aware of the added importance of choosing convention delegates in this year’s state primary.
Through her experience attending an April 13 Trump town hall event and questions she fielded through social media, Rossi became concerned that many Republican voters didn’t understand the delegate system.
“I was getting personal messages, phone calls and texts leading up to the election from voters asking for help with understanding the delegate process,” Rossi said. “I was getting up to 100 messages a day and my phone never stopped.”
Rossi printed cards to hand out recommending the three area Trump delegates she backed, then decided to go a step further by applying the patriotic paint scheme to the highly visible house she owns own that’s awaiting renovation in her hometown.
“I was originally going to do the whole house,” she said. “We just decided to do three faces.”
Rossi said it took less than $1,000 to carry out the project that will stay in place at least through the general election in November. She sketched out the flag design and relied on Ligonier contractor Bob Bauer, who handles rehab work for Crystal Creek, to carry out the vision. Bauer and his two employees made quick work of the job.
“Within three days, we had it up and done,” Rossi said.
Rossi said the house drew some negative comments from supporters of other candidates and from one woman who thought it was a disrespectful to the flag. But she said the overwhelming response has been positive.
“People stop to take pictures and stand on the porch,” she said.
She also learned that several people recited the Pledge of Allegiance as they viewed the house.
“That’s why I did it,” Rossi said. “People love the flag; we’re proud of the flag.”
Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].