Sneed exclusive: Ditka politely declines Trump’s invitation
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Pull up a chair.
After a morning filled with rumors and what appeared to be false reports, Sneed connected The Donald with Da Coach.
At issue was a conflict over a report via Bloomberg claiming former Bears coach Mike Ditka and boxing champ Mike Tyson had been invited and asked to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Both Ditka and Tyson told reporters they had yet to receive such an invite, but the Tribune quoted Ditka as saying he’d do it if Donald Trump asked him.
So Sneed decided to get to the bottom of things.
In an email to the Trump folks, Sneed stated, “Mike Ditka said he’d love to speak although he hadn’t heard from you guys yet, how about a few words from your boss. It could be great!”
Thus, in a three-way conference call orchestrated by Sneed at 2:15 p.m., Trump officially invited Ditka — a huge Trump fan — to speak at the Republican convention next month.
Ditka, who was golfing at Bob O’Link Golf Club in Highland Park, took the call.
Trump: “Coach Ditka, I really appreciate everything you’ve said about me. You are a winner. A real winner.”
Ditka: “Everything you say about things, about the country, I agree with your opinions. You resonate with my kind of people. I believe in what you say wholeheartedly.”
Trump: “You know, [New England Patriots coach] Bill Belichick is a friend of mine. Bobby Knight [former Indiana University coach] loves you. My polling went up 10 points after Bobby came out in favor of me.
“And I just got back a Quinnipiac Poll. The numbers are good. I’m doing real well.”
Continuing to speak about their mutual respect on a phone line that was interrupted by brief periods of ambient silence, Trump interjected respectfully: “Coach, if you’d like to speak, it would be my great honor.”
Ditka: “I’m not big into doing things like that. I’m not going to change opinions, opinions are like assholes. I believe in the way the Constitution was written. But people want to change that. Immigration. Same thing. People want to change things. I believe in you and what you are saying.”
Then the connection was lost.
So . . .
A source confirmed that Ditka politely declined — for now.
There is no doubt, The Donald and Da Coach have respect for each other. Ditka has reiterated his fealty to Trump and would likely attend the convention in Cleveland.
Right now, there is no word on a speaking slot.
• Backshot: The love fest between Trump and Ditka played out in Ditka’s Sun-Times column and Sneed’s column last September when Trump was informed of the Super Bowl-winning coach’s support.
Ditka claimed he thought Trump was on the right track and “has the fire in his belly to make America great again.”
Trump thought so much of Ditka’s comments, he used them on the book jacket for his latest book: “Crippled America.”
Trump told Sneed in September: “He’s a great guy. I’d love to have Mike involved in some capacity. Why? Because Mike knows how to win and our politicians don’t.”
Stay tuned, Sneed expects these two to huddle up soon.
Sneedlings . . .
I spy: Secretary of State Jesse White, spotted hosting his annual birthday celebration at Carmine’s on Tuesday night. . . . Former NBA champ Antoine Walker, dining at Gibsons on Rush last Monday. . . . Today’s birthdays: Mike Tyson, 50; Michael Phelps, 31, and Fantasia Barrino, 32.