Donald Trump Wants Sports Stars, Not Politicians, on Convention Stage

Donald Trump Wants Sports Stars, Not Politicians, on Convention Stage

- in Politics

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Donald J. Trump at a rally in Richmond, Va., on Friday. Credit Chet Strange for The New York Times

RICHMOND, Va. — Donald J. Trump has some ideas for how to jazz up the Republican National Convention, and he previewed one at a rally here on Friday evening: a “winner’s evening” of sports celebrities and champions addressing the convention rather than politicians.

“We’re going to do it a little different, if it’s O.K.,” he told the crowd. “I’m thinking about getting some of the great sports people who like me a lot.”

After regaling the crowd with the long story of how he successfully courted the endorsement of Bobby Knight, the former Indiana University basketball coach, Mr. Trump rattled off a list of other names of sports figures who he said have supported him. According to the candidate, he also has the support of the star quarterbacks Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger; Brian France, the chief executive of Nascar; and Dana White, the president of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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Mr. Trump, right, with Bobby Knight, the former Indiana University basketball coach, who has endorsed him, in Evansville, Ind., in April. Credit Eric Thayer for The New York Times

“Dana White, you know Dana White?” Mr. Trump asked the crowd. “U.F.C. Guy’s a champion. These are champions.”

He said he wanted to have them all address the convention, to be held next month in Cleveland, as examples of “winners,” rather than “these people, these politicians who are going to get up and speak and speak and speak.”

As an example, he appeared to refer to the keynote speech by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey at the 2012 convention, when Mr. Christie seemed to spend more time promoting himself than the nominee, Mitt Romney. “One guy spoke for, like, 45 minutes. He never mentioned Romney’s name,” Mr. Trump said, exaggerating somewhat.

(Curiously enough, Mr. Christie is a Trump supporter, and Mr. Romney a leading detractor.)

A few Republican officials have said they are skipping the convention, in effect protesting Mr. Trump’s brand of campaigning.

“Our country needs to see winners,” Mr. Trump told the crowd. “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.”

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