Brown: Cootie contagion confronts Cleveland

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Spokane, Washington, on Saturday, May 7, 2016. | Ted S. Warren/AP

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Donald Trump has cooties.

I do not say this lightly, nor do I intend it as some Trump-like playground insult.

This is a scientific conclusion I have reached based on extensive research and careful observation of the Republican presidential campaign.

Although I had suspected it for some time, the proof has shown itself in just the past week as Trump cemented his place as the presumptive Republican nominee with the withdrawal from the race of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

All across America, including right here in Illinois, Republican politicians are finding creative excuses to avoid attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where Trump is now expected to be installed as the party’s standard-bearer for November.

Clearly, they’re all worried that Trump’s cooties will rub off on them if they go to Cleveland, “rubbing off” being the generally accepted mode of cootie transmission.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has become so concerned that he won’t even talk about the presidential race any more — or so much as utter Trump’s name.

OPINION

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Rauner waved off a question about Trump at a Tuesday news conference at Lyons Township High School, declining to expand on comments last week when he confirmed he won’t be going to Cleveland.

At the time, Rauner gave an excuse about needing to remain home to stay “focused 100 percent on the state of Illinois.”

Rauner even refused to comment on statements attributed to anonymous aides that he won’t endorse Trump either.

“I’ve said everything I’m going to say about the presidential race,” Rauner repeated over and over last week in response to questions about Trump.

The strangest aspect to that was Rauner’s previously defining statement about the election came in March, when he assured reporters he would back the GOP nominee in November, even if it was Trump.

He explained it was part of his role as the head of the Illinois Republican Party. Now the head of the Illinois Republican Party won’t even lead his state delegation to Cleveland.

I’m not trying to pick on Rauner. I think it was an important public service message he sent his fellow Republicans by warning them — in code, of course — of the cootie danger in Cleveland.

If this were happening in Brazil like the Olympics, the State Department could send out an official advisory about the cootie threat. But as the convention is in Cleveland, where other visitors may just want to catch an Indians game or visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Obama Administration can’t get involved.

Sen. Mark Kirk, a Republican expecting a tough re-election battle against Rep. Tammy Duckworth, had already signaled his intent to skip Cleveland, too, although Kirk later said he will support Trump as the party nominee.

The Duckworth campaign thinks that’s still enough to give him Trump’s cooties, although Kirk seems to be among the Republicans who fear crossing Trump’s supporters is more dangerous than his cootie problems.

There’s no doubt I will receive criticism from some who will point out that I haven’t actually seen any cooties on Trump. True, but as I say, we can infer their presence from other factors — as children always have.

Many important scientific discoveries such as the existence of black holes were made in much the same manner.

Even some of those who plan to attend the conventions, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, say they aren’t ready to endorse Trump.

Some Illinois Republicans believe House Speaker Mike Madigan’s cooties could prove every bit as lethal to some Democratic candidates in the fall as will Trump’s.

It’s also to be expected that Trump will later accuse Hillary Clinton of having her own cooties.

If I were Clinton, I’d say it takes one to know one.

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