Pres­i­dent ex­pected to slam Chicago at GOP Con­ven­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s GOP semi-vir­tual COVID-19 pan­demic con­ven­tion kicks off Mon­day with the pres­i­dent ex­pected to ex­co­ri­ate Demo­crati­crun cities and states, es­pe­cially Chicago, as he makes the case for a sec­ond term.

“Chicago and Illi­nois will be front and cen­ter, whether it’s im­plic­itly or ex­plic­itly in the course of our con­ven­tion,” Richard Porter, a Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee­man from Illi­nois, told the Chicago Sun-Times on Sun­day.

Trump, the for­mer re­al­ity show star who be­lieves he is his own best spokesman, is ex­pected to speak on all four days, up­end­ing a tra­di­tion that a nom­i­nee is not fully heard from un­til the ac­cep­tance speech.

Democrats de­liv­ered the pres­i­den­tial and vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions to Joe Bi­den and Ka­mala Har­ris last week at a vir­tual con­ven­tion with no in-per­son au­di­ence. The “show” was sprin­kled with prepack­aged videos and a mix of recorded and live speeches. Democrats pulled the plug on Mil­wau­kee in late June.

Trump yanked most of the con­ven­tion from Char­lotte, North Carolina, and re­lo­cated to Jack­sonville, Florida, to avoid crowd re­stric­tions only to scratch Florida at the end of July as coro­n­avirus in­fec­tions surged.

A few hun­dred GOP party of­fi­cials from across the na­tion have been meet­ing in per­son in Char­lotte for pre-con­ven­tion party busi­ness: from Illi­nois, that’s Porter; Illi­nois Repub­li­can Party Chair Tim Sch­nei­der; and Cubs co-owner Todd Rick­etts, who over­sees fundrais­ing for Trump’s re­elec­tion cam­paign. Illi­nois Na­tional Com­mit­tee­woman Deme­tra DeMonte stayed home be­cause she was ex­posed to the coro­n­avirus.

The roll call to nom­i­nate Trump and Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence will be Mon­day in Char­lotte, with pro­ceed­ings start­ing at 8 a.m. Chicago time. Trump lands in Char­lotte in the morn­ing.

Last week, Porter and Sch­nei­der recorded a 15-sec­ond video cast­ing Illi­nois’ votes from the scenic rooftop restaurant at the Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel & Tower Chicago.

Start­ing Tues­day, much of the ac­tion jumps to Washington — at the An­drew Mel­lon Au­di­to­rium and at the White House, where Trump ac­cepts the nom­i­na­tion Thurs­day with a crowd of about 1,000 on the South Lawn.

The 2020 Trump/Bi­den con­test is over a few per­suad­able vot­ers in a hand­ful of swing states. Bi­den has a lock on Illi­nois, with the Land of Lin­coln preferring Democrats for pres­i­dent since 1992.

Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill., a Trump Illi­nois co-chair, told the Sun-Times on Sun­day, at the con­ven­tion, “The spot­light is on the pres­i­dent and our Repub­li­can party to lay out an agenda, a nar­ra­tive, a road map on what we’re go­ing to do for those peo­ple that are un­de­cided,” those “mid­dle of the road vot­ers, in­de­pen­dents, sub­ur­ban moms, blue col­lar Democrats. They’re go­ing to be watch­ing this week” and “it is re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant that the pres­i­dent lays out an op­ti­mistic agenda for the next four years.”

LaHood is the son of for­mer Rep. Ray LaHood, R-Ill., who served as a Trans­porta­tion sec­re­tary in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s Demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tion. The se­nior LaHood is back­ing Bi­den. They talk every day. Said Darin LaHood, “We have dif­fer­ing opin­ions on who should be pres­i­dent.”

Trump del­e­gate Aaron Del Mar, the Pala­tine Town­ship Repub­li­can com­mit­tee­man, said, “We need to make a stark con­trast in de­tail on what we’re go­ing to do to move this econ­omy for­ward in this pan­demic” at the con­ven­tion.

Sch­nei­der said the con­ven­tion needs to be “up­lift­ing,” show­cas­ing Trump’s eco­nomic po­lices “that have changed peo­ple’s lives” with a “fo­cus, re­ally, on the pos­i­tive things” Trump has done.

Rick­etts told the Sun-Times the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion pre­sented a “bleak view of the fu­ture. I think the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion is go­ing to be more about a bright fu­ture with a grow­ing econ­omy and I guess end­ing in a hap­pier place.”

The 2020 White House bat­tle plays out as the na­tion is strug­gling with the COVID-19 pan­demic trig­ger­ing the worst health and eco­nomic crises in our life­times and with the Ge­orge Floyd mur­der spark­ing a new move­ment to con­front in­sti­tu­tional racism and po­lice bru­tal­ity.

A part of Trump’s sec­ond-term law and or­der agenda — re­leased Sun­day — deals with polic­ing is­sues of cen­tral im­por­tance to Chicago: Trump will call for more po­lice hir­ing; pros­e­cu­tion of drive-by shoot­ings as “Acts of Do­mes­tic Ter­ror­ism,” and end­ing cash­less bail.

Trump al­ready por­trays Democrats as anti-po­lice with cities and states with Demo­cratic lead­ers — in­clud­ing Chicago and Illi­nois — poorly gov­erned by “rad­i­cal so­cial­ists.”

Trump has been tar­get­ing Chicago since his 2016 run. In his 2016 con­ven­tion speech, Trump high­lighted killings in Chicago, earn­ing Obama boos as Trump noted the shoot­ings were in “the pres­i­dent’s home­town.” Chicago con­tin­ues to strug­gle with gun vi­o­lence and killings.

In a preview of sorts, Trump said last week, “If you want a vi­sion of your life un­der the Bi­den pres­i­dency, think of the smol­der­ing ru­ins in Min­neapo­lis, the vi­o­lent an­ar­chy of Port­land, the blood-stained side­walks of Chicago.”

Hap­pen­ing right now, on Trump’s — not Bi­den’s — watch.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump speaks at the White House last week.


The Repub­li­can Con­ven­tion roll call will take place Mon­day, in Char­lotte, N.C. Richard Porter (left), an Illi­nois Repub­li­can Na­tional com­mit­tee­man, and Illi­nois Repub­li­can Party Chair Tim Sch­nei­der, in Char­lotte, will de­liver the Illi­nois votes for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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