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Trump raises about $1 million — and protesters’ ire — in Chicago

While presidential candidate Donald Trump holds a fundraiser in Chicago, community activists hold a press conference Tuesday morning outside the Trump Tower to decry the Republican's "abhorrent language." | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Donald Trump raised about $1 million to benefit his GOP presidential campaign and other Republicans at a fundraiser lunch Tuesday at his Trump Tower in Chicago.

The salad topped with sliced chicken lunch drew more than 30 donors who gathered in a meeting room at the Trump hotel and condo development at 401 N. Wabash.

Trump asked the attendees whom he should pick as his vice presidential running mate, a source who was there told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Multiple news outlets are reporting that Trump will announce his choice by the end of this week.

It was not clear, the source said, whether Trump was making conversation or was seriously soliciting important input from donors.

Illinois is a major source of Republican money and Trump is likely to return for more campaign cash — with some jumbo local contributors holding off until after the nominating convention in Cleveland and the announcement of a vice presidential pick.

No prominent Illinois GOP elected officials were at the fundraiser – no surprise since most of them are keeping their distance from Trump.

At about the same time as the fundraiser, Gov. Bruce Rauner who has spoken out against Trump’s rhetoric — sidestepped questions about Trump at an unrelated news conference at the Thompson Center.

Rauner walked out without responding to reporters who asked what he’d be doing instead of attending the GOP presidential convention, which kicks off on Monday in Cleveland.

The Trump fundraiser was hosted by Chicago business executive Ron Gidwitz, the Trump Illinois Victory chairman who has been working to ensure the election of Republicans farther down on the ticket, no matter how Trump fares against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The Democratic National Committee organized allies from various groups to protest Trump, who is scheduled to officially become the Republican presidential nominee next week.

Tuesday marked Trump’s return to Chicago after a failed rally in March that was canceled due to security concerns as protesters and supporters clashed.

Hours before his Tuesday fundraiser, Trump tweeted about the city and its violence problem while touting his plan for inner cities to “deliver jobs, safety and protection for those in need:” “Crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse. Look what is going on in Chicago and our inner cities. Not good!”

Outside the Trump fundraiser, dozens of protesters lined the street.

“Love will trump hate, hope will trump fear, truth will trump denial, and unity will trump division,” William McNary of Citizen Action told the crowd of dozens outside the Trump building. Some held signs that read “Trump Demeans Women” and “Tell Trump: It is Un-American to Ban Muslims.”

McNary joined Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia – Bernie Sanders’ highest profile supporter in Chicago — City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who is running for state Comptroller and advocates for women, Muslims and immigrant and refugee rights for the rally.

“Do we want somebody running this country who makes fun of minorities, and people with disabilities?” Larry Biondi, an advocate for the disabled, asked the crowd. That was an apparent reference to a speech Trump made in which he mocked a disabled New York Times reporter.

Mendoza said she came to denounce Trump’s “message of hate.”

“Our job is to stand up against that, to espouse about love. Talking about our differences is what makes us great and to actually get through our differences through talking as professionals, adults, rationally, instead of as, like, bullies on the playground,” Mendoza said.

GalleryContributing: Virginia Barreda