Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

There’s a new Republican Party coming to town — specifically, to Cleveland, Ohio.

As Donald Trump prepares to take the stage at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, a mass of grassroots militant groups will be following him there. True to Trump’s crusade against “establishment politics,” the convention will mark these fringe conservatives’ entrance onto the mainstream political stage.

After riots broke out between some of these groups and anti-Trump protesters outside a rally in San Jose in early June — and safety concerns cancelled another campaign stop in Chicago — tensions are expected to run high this weekend.

One prominent group of Trump advocates already drawing attention is the white nationalist Traditionalist Workers Party, whose members were involved in the San Jose brawl but blamed anti-Trump protesters for the violence.

“We’re essentially just going to show up [at the convention] and make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs,” the group’s spokesman, Matt Parrott, told McClatchy Washington Bureau.

The party’s platform advocates an end to “discrimination against whites” and racial integration and counts Matthew Heimbach, who shoved a protester while calling her “leftist scum,” among its more prominent figures.

“White Americans are getting fed up and they’re learning that they must either push back or be pushed down,” Heimbach wrote online regarding his attack on the black protester, according to The Washington Post.

Despite the Traditionalist Workers’ violent track record, Parrott told McClatchy that he didn’t anticipate violent incidents during the convention, not counting “a couple of isolated skirmishes.” Meanwhile, a member of another group, Citizens for Trump, said the city’s government — not these militia groups — would be responsible if there were incidents.

As speculation rises over the possibility of a Republican mutiny against Trump, many of his supporters are also traveling to Ohio to ensure that Trump does in fact secure the nomination. Two organizations expected to be in full force next week are named “We Will Walk” and “Stop the Steal.”

Roger Stone, a friend and advisor to Trump and an organizer, said in April that he would leak the hotel room numbers of convention delegates who broke commitments to vote for Trump.

Chris Cox, founder of Bikers for Trump, known for serving as vigilante security at his rallies, said in a Reuters interview that the group’s “role will change” if Trump is denied the nomination — or if protesters on the other side get out of line.

“The moment that we are assaulted the tone will definitely change,” Cox said in an April Politico article on the Bikers’ security efforts. “We’re certainly not going to get punched and back down.”

The group, which expects to bring thousands to Cleveland, encourages its motorcycle-riding supporters not to act violently, but alleges on its website that “paid protestors” who rally against Trump are being fed “untruthful propaganda.”

As Politico noted, the Trump campaign is aware of their “security” efforts — Cox is close with Trump’s head of security — suggesting that these groups are not as independent from the main operation as they may seem.

The first expected appearance for these militia Trump supporters will be at a demonstration on the first day of the convention, the “America First Unity Rally.” Speakers at the event lack the same violent track record but seem to hold the same racist beliefs.

Organized by former Trump adviser Roger Stone and a white nationalist group, “America First” will feature individuals such as Jan Morgan, a self-proclaimed Second Amendment advocate who boasts about banning Muslims from her shooting range and calls Islam a theocratic “terrorist organization.”

Morgan won’t be the only Islamophobe in attendance. Another headliner, Guido George Lombardi, co-founded Citizens for Trump and posted on Twitter that the organizer of the Dallas Black Lives Matter rally is an “Islamic agent.” Fellow speaker Wayne Dupree, meanwhile, suggested that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed because they wanted to “show off for their friends with disrespect.”

So far, the Trump campaign has not publicly commented on any of these efforts.

 

Photo: A man carries a sign for Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump at the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to highlight POW-MIA issues on Memorial Day weekend in Washington, U.S. May 29, 2016.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Trump speaking at Londonderry, NH rally

Screenshot from YouTube

Donald Trump once again baselessly claimed on Sunday that the COVID-19 pandemic was "going to be over" soon, just hours after his chief of staff suggested the administration was unable to get it under control.

"Now we have the best tests, and we are coming around, we're rounding the turn," Trump said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. "We have the vaccines, we have everything. We're rounding the turn. Even without the vaccines, we're rounding the turn, it's going to be over."

Trump has made similar claims on repeated occasions in the past, stating early on in the pandemic that the coronavirus would go away on its own, then with the return of warmer weather.

That has not happened: Over the past several weeks, multiple states have seen a surge in cases of COVID-19, with some places, including Utah, Texas, and Wisconsin, setting up overflow hospital units to accommodate the rapidly growing number of patients.

Hours earlier on Sunday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows appeared to contradict Trump, telling CNN that there was no point in trying to curb the spread of the coronavirus because it was, for all intents and purposes, out of their control.

"We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas," he said. "Because it is a contagious virus, just like the flu."

Meadows doubled own on Monday, telling reporters, "We're going to defeat the virus; we're not going to control it."

"We will try to contain it as best we can, but if you look at the full context of what I was talking about, we need to make sure that we have therapeutics and vaccines, we may need to make sure that when people get sick, that, that they have the kind of therapies that the president of the United States had," he added.Public health experts, including those in Trump's own administration, have made it clear that there are two major things that could curb the pandemic's spread: mask wearing and social distancing.

But Trump has repeatedly undermined both, expressing doubt about the efficacy of masks and repeatedly ignoring social distancing and other safety rules — even when doing so violated local and state laws.

Trump, who recently recovered from COVID-19 himself, openly mocked a reporter on Friday for wearing a mask at the White House — which continues to be a hotspot for the virus and which was the location of a superspreader event late last month that led to dozens of cases. "He's got a mask on that's the largest mask I think I've ever seen. So I don't know if you can hear him," Trump said as his maskless staff laughed alongside him.

At the Manchester rally on Sunday, Trump also bragged of "unbelievable" crowd sizes at his mass campaign events. "There are thousands of people there," he claimed, before bashing former Vice President Joe Biden for holding socially distant campaign events that followed COVID safety protocols.

"They had 42 people," he said of a recent Biden campaign event featuring former President Barack Obama. "He drew flies, did you ever hear the expression?"

Last Monday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) endorsed Biden's approach to the pandemic as better than Trump's, without "any doubt."

"The more we go down the road resisting masks and distance and tracing and the things that the scientists are telling us, I think the more concerned I get about our management of the COVID situation," he told CNN.

In his final debate against Biden last Thursday, Trump was asked what his plan was to end the pandemic. His answer made it clear that, aside from waiting for a vaccine, he does not have one.

"There is a spike, there was a spike in Florida and it's now gone. There was a very big spike in Texas — it's now gone. There was a spike in Arizona, it is now gone. There are spikes and surges in other places — they will soon be gone," he boasted. "We have a vaccine that is ready and it will be announced within weeks and it's going to be delivered. We have Operation Warp Speed, which is the military is going to distribute the vaccine."

Experts have said a safe vaccine will likely not be ready until the end of the year at the earliest, and that most people will not be able to be vaccinated until next year.

Trump also bragged Sunday that he had been "congratulated by the heads of many countries on what we have been able to do," without laying out any other strategy for going forward.

Nationally, new cases set a single-day record this weekend, with roughly 84,000 people testing positive each day. More than 8.5 million Americans have now contracted the virus and about 225,000 have died.

Trump, by contrast, tweeted on Monday that he has "made tremendous progress" with the virus, while suggesting that it should be illegal for the media to report on it before the election.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.