Virtual convention suited Lori Lightfoot just fine

She popped up at virtual Democratic National Convention meetings, with groups promoting gay and lesbian candidates and panels on election integrity and COVID’s impact.

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot took part in an online panel discussion Monday on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot took part in an online panel discussion Monday on the first day of the Democratic National Convention.


Mayor Lori Lightfoot can only imagine what a whirlwind this past week would have been had the Democratic National Convention been real and in Milwaukee instead of virtual and on Zoom.

“I’m already tired,” Lightfoot said. “Just imagine if it was actually in person. The amount of socializing and after-hours, I’ll say, conversation.”

Lightfoot popped up during virtual meetings held by the Democrats’ Black and Poverty Caucuses, by groups promoting women, gay and lesbian candidates and on panels on election integrity and the impact of the coronavirus on city and state finances.

Between convention events, she squeezed in announcements about reforms to the Chicago Public Schools School Resource Officer program and a community policing expansion.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was a former White House chief of staff who alienated Chicago voters by playing too much national politics. He was forced to cut short his trip to the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, because of a teachers’ strike.

During an interview with the Sun-Times — which her staff insisted be confined to convention activities — Lightfoot denied any similar danger for her less than two weeks removed from a second round of looting that ravaged downtown, River North, the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park before spreading to Chicago neighborhoods.

“I never take my eye off the city,” she said. “Raising my profile really is about raising Chicago’s profile and making sure that we get our fair share of federal funding because we need it.”

Had there been no pandemic, overflow delegates would have stayed in Illinois hotels and descended on downtown and River North.

In that sense, Lightfoot is fortunate the convention was virtual. She was spared the embarrassment of delegates walking past looted stores and boarded-up restaurants.

“I’ve actually been in the downtown area during the daytime and the nighttime virtually every day since, and what I’m seeing is a city that’s incredibly resilient,” she said. “Yes, people are concerned. Yes, they were fearful. And we haven’t allayed all of those concerns. But what I’m seeing every single day … is people coming back to the city.”

Republicans who get their turn in the spotlight in the coming week have had a field day accusing Democrats of ignoring rising violent crime and looting in Chicago and other major cities, all run by Democratic mayors.

Lightfoot said crime was “top of mind for all of the mayors who are facing an increase in violence.” 

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“We don’t hide from the realities of life on the ground in our cities, but we’re doing it in a way that actually forges solutions and tries to bring people together,” she said. “That is not what the president has ever done.”

During a panel on state and local finances and the coronavirus, Lightfoot said she will have no choice but to resort to layoffs and furloughs without another round of stimulus money to replace revenue lost during the pandemic.

“We’re looking for multiple hundreds of millions of dollars,” she said. 

Lightfoot said her first convention has been “inspiring” and that a highlight was Michelle Obama’s opening-night speech.

“It was powerful because it was so classically her,” she said. “She didn’t raise her voice. But it was laser-like in laying out the case for why Donald Trump isn’t up for the job.”

Michelle Obama speaking at the virtual Democratic National Convention.

Michelle Obama speaking at the virtual Democratic National Convention.

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Though Biden has apologized for a series of insensitive remarks offending black voters, the mayor said she is “not concerned in the slightest” about African American voters sitting out this election, not with Kamala Harris on the ticket.

“Each of us has said things that we wish we could take back. None of us is perfect,” the mayor said.

But that does not include Lightfoot’s infamous “begins-with-an-F-and-ends-with-a-you” remark to President Donald Trump.

“I said it in a context of him saying that he was gonna bring out troops and shoot protesters,” she said. “That is an outrageous statement. I can’t believe it was uttered by the president of the United States. It needed a strong response. I don’t regret saying that one bit.”

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