Trump considers Carbondale campaign stop
But opponents have prepared a city resolution saying the president’s ‘fascism’ is unwelcome
By Ted Cox
President Trump is considering a campaign stop in Carbondale, but critics are already lining up to say he’s not welcome.
An email sent to city officials Thursday night by City Manager Gary Williams says Trump is considering the campaign appearance next Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Southern Illinois University campus, and that he would fly Air Force One into Southern Illinois Airport.
The president is expected to try to prop up support for various Republican congressmen in southern Illinois, all involved in tight battles for re-election in what was previously considered Trump country.
According to Williams’s email, the U.S. Secret Service contacted the Carbondale Police Department earlier this week to begin making preliminary arrangements, and the White House is working with SIU to book a venue. While allowing for last-minute changes to the president’s schedule, Williams stated, “There was a decent chance that the event could happen.”
Not everyone is lining up to greet the president, however.
According to The Southern Illinoisan, City Councilman Adam Loos immediately drafted a resolution stating Trump is “unwelcome and persona non grata in Carbondale” and prepared it for consideration at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Although Loos reportedly dropped the resolution when other members withdrew their support, it cites the city’s longstanding support for women, immigrants “documented and undocumented,” and the disabled, stating that Carbondale “draws its strength from the diversity of our residents of all races, religions, and places of origin.”
It then goes through a laundry list of Trump offenses — including mocking a disabled reporter and calling the media “the enemy of the people,” disparaging Mexican immigrants, boasting of sexual assault, and calling for political opponents to be jailed — concluding, “The proper term for politicians who gain and maintain power by scapegoating and demonizing racial and ethnic minorities, women, people with disabilities, and immigrants is ‘fascism.’”
According to the resolution, Trump is therefore declared “unwelcome and persona non grata,” with city employees forbidden from aiding his visit, which of course would have caused complications for the police had the resolution been submitted and adopted.
There already would appear to be complications, however, as the weekend of Oct. 26 is set for the revival of Carbondale’s Halloween festival — an event that hasn’t been held since 2000 “after riots broke out and created costly damages to businesses,” according to WPSD-TV, the local NBC affiliate in Paducah, Ky.
Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry spurred that Halloween revival, saying it could act as a catalyst to boost the area, especially in light of years of declining enrollment at SIU.
Williams’s email referred to the Trump visit as a “political rally,” adding, “Our assumption is that he is here to campaign for Rep. [Mike] Bost, who is in a tight re-election race” against St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly.
Trump might be playing pork-barrel politics as well, as Williams speculated “that if the president comes he will announce that Carbondale has been awarded a BUILD grant for $14.84 million.” The city has been awaiting a decision on a Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development grant in the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover TIGER program.
Bost and U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis both attended Trump’s previous Illinois appearance this summer at the U.S. Steel Granite City Works and figure to be in Carbondale next weekend if Trump’s visit comes off. Davis too is in a tight race for re-election against Betsy Dirksen Londrigan. Londrigan has made health care her key issue, and a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that health care is the top issue for voters in the upcoming midterm elections Nov. 6.