Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump intends to fill the stage at the national convention in Cleveland next month not with politicians, but with sports stars.
“We’re going to do it a little different, if it’s O.K.,” he recently told a crowd in Virginia, as transcribed by Nick Corasiniti for the NY Times. “I’m thinking about getting some of the great sports people who like me a lot.”
Trump listed for the crowd the names of prominent figures in sport who support him, including former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and BenRoethlisberger, NASCAR chief executive Brian France, and UFC president Dana White.
“Dana White, you know Dana White?” The Donald asked the crowd. “UFC. Guy’s a champion. These are champions.”
“Our country needs to see winners. We don’t see winners anymore. We have a bunch of clowns running this country. We have people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing running our country.”
White is not a political person, but is on the record as appreciative of his history with Trump.
“When we bought this business, it was banned in most states,” said White to TMZ in December. “It wasn’t supported by the athletic commissions and no arenas wanted this thing. And Donald Trump was the first one to have us come out at the Trump Taj Mahal, not only did we host the events there, but he actually showed up and supported the events.”
“You will never hear me say a negative thing about Donald Trump. And you know what? When we did our big Fox deal, there was a big write-up in the New York Times. On the front page he wrote, ‘Congratulations, Dana. I always knew you were going to do it,’ and he sent the front page to me. So me and Donald are cool. Donald will get my vote.”