Delegation of two represents Illinois at Republican convention
Compared to having a cotton swab on a 6-inch stick shoved up his nose upon arriving in North Carolina Friday, everything else has been a cakewalk at the Republican National Convention for Illinois GOP Chairman Tim Schneider.
"That was some greeting," he joked. "But we did it so we could group here together today and keep everyone safe and the people of North Carolina safe."
Schneider and Illinois Republican National Committeeman Richard Porter were the only two delegates from the state, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowed to travel to the convention in Charlotte, where President Donald Trump was nominated for reelection Monday. A third delegate from Illinois was also invited but turned down the invitation because of concerns she might have been exposed to the virus before traveling.
A contingent of about 70 delegates would normally have traveled to the convention from Illinois.
"It's just bittersweet because all of the passionate supporters that wanted to be here and be part of the convention," said Porter, a Northfield resident. "I just feel really badly that they couldn't."
Both men were outfitted with monitors that could alert them instantly if someone they came into contact with tested positive for the virus while at the convention.
Schneider, a former Cook County Board member from Bartlett, delivered all 67 delegate votes for Trump early Monday morning, noting the state was home to two former Republican presidents, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan. He made no mention of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, also being a former resident of Illinois and member of the legislature.
After the nomination, Vice President Mike Pence gave a scheduled speech to the delegates on hand, followed by a surprise speech from Trump that lasted for about an hour.
"He spoke with lots of enthusiasm and lot of excitement," Schneider said. "I think we're going to do well."
Trump is expected to speak all four nights of the convention. Democratic nominee Joe Biden had several notable Democrats speak on his behalf during the first three days before delivering his address on the fourth day. "This president isn't afraid to speak for himself," Schneider said. "The Democrats wanted to end with Joe Biden coming out of his basement, and that's not what the president is doing. And I saw a list of speakers over the next four days, a huge list of elected officials and private citizens. There's no lack of people interested in speaking on his behalf."
Porter said he was also pleased by Trump's appearance at the convention Monday, saying it was nice to have the president reiterate his platform for the next four years.
"It's more of putting America first and expanding that agenda and keeping America strong," Porter said. "He's going to improve funding and training for police, and other things that you'll hear over the next couple nights will be in clear contrast to the other party."
With the nomination over, both Schneider and Porter were planning to fly back to Illinois and then fly to Washington for Trump's acceptance speech Thursday at the White House.
"The business of the convention has been completed," Porter said. "Now the rest of it is a celebration."