BEDFORD, N.Y. – "What is that terrorist doing here anyway," one Bedford resident said to us, referring to Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader who erected a tent in this ritzy town.
We're about an hour north of New York City where Gadhafi pitched a tent on Donald Trump's property. Yes, Trump lives here – so does Martha Stewart (told ya it's ritzy).
Turns out, Gadhafi prefers tents to hotels. Apparently he hates riding in elevators, ruling out many of the city's high-rise hotels. So, he sets up tents wherever he goes. He did so in Paris and Rome, and tried to pitch one in Central Park. But the city denied his request. So he tried to pitch one in Englewood, N.J. The neighbors and even the governor pitched a fit. No go there either.
|VIDEO: Gadhafi's tent causes a stir|
So, the Libyan government apparently made a deal with the Trump Organization to allow Gadhafi to set up his famous tent on the Trump estate in Bedford. The Trump Organization denied that they knowingly rented the property to the man President Ronald Reagan famously called "the mad dog of the Middle East." Rather, it said part of the estate, "was leased on a short-term basis to Middle Eastern partners, who may or may not have a relationship to Mr. Gadhafi."
Either way, there is no "Welcome" mat here. One Bedford neighbor just told me, "He's a criminal. He's a terrorist. He needs to go back where he belongs. We don't want him here."
Gadhafi, who was making his first appearance at the United Nations on Wednesday after 40 years as ruler of the oil-rich North African nation, might not have chosen the best time to come face-to-face with Americans. Remember, he just celebrated Scotland's release last month of Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 which killed 270 people – including many New Yorkers.
|Kevin P. Coughlin / Flying Dog Photos|
|An aerial photo of the tent erected by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's on the Trump estate in Bedford, N.Y.|
Standing here in "downtown Bedford," reaction is pretty one-sided. "Why is he here?" one woman asked. "It makes no sense."
Under pressure, Bedford officials have issued a stop-work order to the property's caretaker, citing the failure to obtain the proper permits necessary to pitch a tent. So, it seems Bedford has dodged Gadhafi (for now).
He reportedly stayed at the Libyan Mission in midtown Manhattan on Tuesday night. "He should get out of this country," a volunteer firefighter just told me as he walked through town.
Oh, and by the way, if you come to Bedford, try the coffee shop on the Village Green. It's strong – just like the opinions of all the neighbors here today.