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Illinois delegation at GOP convention gets security warning

State Rep. John Cabello, addresses an Illinois Republican Party breakfast at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
State Rep. John Cabello, addressing an Illinois Republican Party breakfast at the Republican National Convention. | Tina Sfondeles / Sun-Times

CLEVELAND — The Illinois Trump campaign co-chair warned state delegates what they should do if confronted by any potentially violent situations as the Republican National Convention kicks off on Monday.

The co-chair, State Rep. John Cabello, a Rockford police detective currently on leave, commented at an Illinois Republican Party breakfast at the convention.

“Look people in the eyes. Make sure they know that you are watching what’s going on,” Cabello, R-Machesney Park said. “Pay attention. If you see something, please report it right away.”

The opening session will be gaveled to order a day after three police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, La., and just weeks after police shootings in Dallas.

There is a massive law enforcement presence — in uniform and undercover — at all political conventions, with forces beefed up as tens of thousands are here in advance of Donald Trump accepting the Republican presidential nomination on Thursday.

The Illinois GOP party starts each convention day with a breakfast, notable on Monday for who was not there — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

Illinois delegates will have prime seats near the podium at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times
Illinois delegates will have prime seats near the podium at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. | Lynn Sweet/Sun-Times

Still, Cabello and Illinois Republican Party Chair Tim Schneider said Illinoisans are united in wanting to defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

At past conventions, these morning sessions have been used to rally the troops for the Illinois ticket. At this event, however, no speaker mentioned Kirk by name.

As for any divides among Republicans who are not backing Trump because of his divisive rhetoric, Cabello stressed that the Illinois Republican Party is working with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Cabello said that the “No Trump” and “Dump Trump” movement had totally fizzled. “I can guarantee it is iron-clad that nothing, nothing is going to stop Donald Trump from being our nominee,” he said to applause.

“We have all locked arms. We are all ready to make sure that crooked Hillary is not the next president of the United States,” Cabello said.

The daily breakfast marked the first time all Illinois delegates — at-large, alternate at-large and elected delegates were meeting.

Included among that group is 17-year-old at-large delegate Karl Miller, of west suburban Downers Grove, the youngest Illinois delegate.

Most in the room were first-time convention goers, including Schneider, and most of the elected delegates.

“Are you ready to take back the White House in 2016?” Schneider asked to cheers, while touting that Trump’s campaign has resonated with “millions and millions of new voters.”

“We need to work together. All of us together. The Illinois Republican Party, we’re not your enemy. We’re your friend,” Schneider said.

For all the talk of unity around Trump, the Illinois delegation on Monday afternoon is meeting with former GOP 2016 presidential contender Ohio Gov. John Kasich — who is not backing Trump and is unlikely even to attend the convention.

A Twitter List by Suntimes