Physical distancing went out the door on Saturday as people embraced and shook hands with the Independent Liberal Party (ILP) candidate for Lopinot/Bon Air West, Jack Warner.
People in Tacarigua expressed excitement at Warner’s return to politics as he made his first walkabout on Thavenot, Huggins, Gittens and other streets in the area, going to homes, bars, shops, and even a gas station along the route.
However, even though Warner was shaking hands and giving hugs, most of his team were physical-distancing and many were wearing masks.
Warner received tremendous support from some, who came out to meet him. Others were ambivalent about his presence. Asked their feelings about Warner’s candidacy, some adopted a “wait and see” attitude, saying they did not know if he could make a difference.
Others were more enthusiastic as they had previously had some personal contact with Warner.
Grevall Waithe showed this reporter the goosebumps on his arm, which he said he got when he saw Warner, whom he regarded very highly.
“I never get blank by him when I ran into trouble. Nobody else ever do anything for me. They (the UNC and PNM) always promising things and then giving people the runaround.
"He is not Jack Warner, he is Uncle Jack.”
One woman rushed out of her shower when she heard the announcement that Warner was in the area. She wanted to greet him and get his autograph.
“Kamla (Persad-Bissessar, United National Congress leader) is a wicked woman,” she said. “She used his money and then called him a thief. She did him wrong.”
Another woman said if people supported Warner and he won, she believed he could help improve the situation of Lopinot/Bon Air West and of the country.
One man said it was “excellent” that Warner was back, because Warner was a giver and a performer who cared for people.
“I want him up here,” he said.
Kalliman Deosaran said she had known Warner for a “very long time” and found him to be a humble man who liked helping people.
“I can’t say anything bad about him.”
Speaking to the media during the walkabout, Warner said most of the complaints in the constituency were about poor representation, that no one took care of them, or they never saw their former MP.
“Up in the US, black lives matter. In this constituency, all lives matter,” said Warner.
He denied he had met with Persad-Bissessar at the Centre of Excellence on Monday, saying the last time he spoke with her was when she fired him from Cabinet on April 22, 2013.
However, he said he never experienced racism from Persad-Bissessar, although he had from the UNC “cabal.” This was in response to the Prime Minister's accusation of “race-baiting” by Persad-Bissessar after she possibly described Rowley as the “black man on the other side” during a UNC virtual campaign meeting on Thursday night.
Warner also confirmed that the UNC’s initial candidate for Lopinot/Bon Air West, Triston Bonterre, was his employee, but said that was not the reason why he was replaced by Prakash Williams. Rather, he said Persad-Bissessar replaced Bonterre because of a personal issue.