It wouldn’t have been an authentic Trump family event if former President Donald Trump’s son hadn’t roasted Democrats during a speech in Addison on Friday.
But some of the harshest rhetoric from Donald Trump Jr. and his supporters focused on fellow Republicans.
“I didn’t realize there were this many sane people in Illinois,” Trump Jr. said, taking the stage to applause at the fundraiser organized by McGOPAC, a McHenry County Republican political action group.
He castigated “the weak Republicans” in Washington who vote with the Democrats. “Because they understand it’s easy to actually be a Republican in Washington ... as long as [Democrats] know you will fold when it matters,” he said.
Also, “you want to fix Illinois? Fix our state party,” said former GOP state Sen. Darren Bailey, who warmed the crowd.
Bailey said he “couldn’t understand” why he lost to Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker in the 2022 election.
After a lot of “thinking and praying,” the downstate farmer said the answer was, “We have got to get rid of weak-kneed Republicans.”
McHenry County Clerk Joe Tirio, who co-founded McGOPAC, also welcomed Trump Jr.
“We live in precarious times,” he said. “The fact of the matter is there is no red wave. The cavalry is not coming. It’s you guys. We need you to be a force multiplier.”
Trump Jr. riposted familiar targets, including President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, a former top COVID-19 adviser to Trump Sr.
But comments about the economy and inflation particularly resonated with the crowd of about 400 people.
“I’m watching ‘Bidenomics’ being touted,” Trump Jr. said as the audience booed the expression.
“I understand that I’m the son of a billionaire from Manhattan. And if I’m at the grocery store with sticker shock, that’s a serious problem,” Trump Jr. said to cheers and applause.
Trump Jr., executive vice president of the Trump Organization, also disparaged U.S. support for Ukraine in its war against Russia’s 2022 invasion.
“Raise your hand if Ukraine is the No. 1 issue for you as a Republican,” Trump said, receiving no hands even when he extended it to a “top 10″ issue.
Senate Leader “Mitch McConnell will tell people with a straight face it is the No. 1 issue for Republicans in America, and we’re going to keep spending your grandchildren’s future to support corrupt and broken regimes in Eastern Europe with no actual goal,” Trump Jr. said.
He added: “it’s not (Ukrainian President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy on the front lines. It’s some peasants they’ll send out there to die so that they can keep making money.”
The fundraiser was held at Venuti’s Italian Restaurant and Banquet Hall, located in Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi’s 8th District.
“The people of Illinois have better things to do than listen to Donald Trump Jr. espouse Russian talking points about Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine,” Krishnamoorthi said. “I know the vast majority of my constituents stand resolutely behind Ukraine as it pushes to defend its freedom and reclaim the land that Russia is illegally occupying.
“We must continue to support President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people because a Ukrainian defeat would create a more dangerous and unstable world.”
Trump Jr.’s appearance occurred during a week when his father was in New York court for a business fraud trial. The elder Trump also faces other indictments in federal court, including election interference and keeping classified documents, and election interference in Georgia state court, which he has dismissed as a “witch hunt.”
The allegations didn’t worry longtime Trump supporter and Republican Gary DeRenzo of Huntley, who proudly displayed a “Letters to Trump” book distributed at the event.
“My famous line now is, ‘Are you awake yet?’” DeRenzo said. “Anybody figuring this out? How we’ve been had? I don’t judge. I have my opinion. There’s only one truth.”
Former Naperville City Council member Dick Furstenau also attended and got a photo with Trump Jr.
“It’s nice that he’s out here helping his dad,” said Furstenau, a Republican committeeman. “I think the counties outside of Cook County are ready for a change, and the women are ready for a change. They’ve been voting for the Democrats for the last 10 years, and they’re off that.”