U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, pulled off an unusual political double-play Saturday.
She spent an hour marching with anti-Trump protesters in downtown West Palm Beach, then crossed the Intracoastal Waterway to Palm Beach, where she mingled with Trump at the annual Red Cross Charity ball at Mar-a-Lago.
GALLERY: See photos from the protest
“It was very interesting going over to the Red Cross ball. I wasn’t there with a protest sign, although I would have liked to,’’ she said with a laugh.
She said she considered blowing off the ball and spending the whole night with the marchers. But she made up her mind Saturday afternoon in what she called a “last minute” decision.
GALLERY: See photos from the Red Cross Ball
“Do I go to the march or do I go to the ball. I decided I would do both,’’ she said.
“Of course, I felt more at home in my sneakers and with so many people who I share their concerns and anger and anxieties about what’s going on.” Besides, she added, “I’m not really a ball person.’’
Frankel said she has taken heat from colleagues and constituents about attending Trump’s inauguration and other charity events at Mar-a-Lago, even though she is a vocal opponent of Trump and his policies.
“I decided I have to go to places where I think it’s the right thing to do, regardless of whether he is going to be there,’’ she said.
Around 4 p.m., she put on casual slacks and a top and met privately downtown with organizers of the march. “I met with them to give them a little pep talk,’’ she said. “Then I went to the march at about 5 and stayed for an hour.’’
Around 6 p.m. — as many of the 3,000 marchers were were shouting “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” — Frankel went home and changed into her formal wear. Then she headed over to Mar-a-Lago, along the way she passing some of the same protesters she had marched with when the procession started 2 miles to the north.
Related: Inside the lavish Red Cross Ball
At Mar-a-Lago, she said she spent time talking to foreign diplomats, telling each of them that she opposes Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. “They sort of nodded their heads. This wasn’t a time for political debate. It was a charitable event.’’
Then she made her way toward Trump.
“It was hard because the Secret Service surrounds him but I did approach the president in a very respectful way,’’ she said.
“I don’t recall the exact conversation word for word but the gist of what I told him was, ‘Reach out and listen to the other voices.’ I wanted to make him aware in a very respectful way that there was some disagreement with what he was doing.”
She doesn’t remember Trump’s exact reply.
“He seemed very comfortable with his current course of action,” she said. “I was about to continue the conversation and the Secret Service got in between us.’’
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Frankel did not tell Trump she had been marching against him with demonstrators just an hour before she arrived.
“I’m sure he was aware of (the nearby protesters),’’ she said. “How could he not?’’
Asked if anyone else at the ball had attended the protest march earlier in the night, Frankel laughed. “I would guess that I was the one. And I am glad I did both. I really am.’’