CHICAGO (CBS) — Vice president-elect Mike Pence was met by about 100 protesters Friday as he arrived for a Republican Party fundraising luncheon at the Chicago Club on Michigan Avenue.
Meanwhile, Illinois’s most notable Republican — Gov. Bruce Rauner — was not in attendance.
Pence entered the club through a back entrance away from protesters who were kept back by Chicago police. The protesters – not a large number in comparison to recent protests at events for President-elect Donald Trump – chanted, carried signs, and occasionally heckled Republican donors who smiled and waved as they entered the club at the corner of Michigan and Van Buren.
John Beachem, coordinator of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) Coalition in Chicago, said the protesters need to build a mass movement “of all those who will struggle in the streets, in their workplaces, in their places of worship, in their schools, against this regime.”
Beachem said they need to protect women, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, the disabled, the LGBTQ community, workers, the environment, and more.
“The people are angry. The people are frustrated,” he said.
Betty Holcomb was blunt.
“No one who doesn’t have a vagina has any business talking about vaginas,” she says.
Signs in the crowd read “Trump Unfit For Office,” “A Disaster For The Nation,” “A Tweeting Fool As President,” and “What A Joke.”
Protesters said they planned a “Festival of No” rally outside Trump Tower in Chicago on Saturday, as part of a series of protests at Trump properties on New Year’s Eve and the days leading up to the inauguration.
Rauner, the state’s top Republican, was listed as chief sponsor of the luncheon. But he didn’t show up, still on his holiday vacation out west.
During the presidential campaign, Rauner would not even mention Trump by name.
Not to worry, GOP stalwarts insist.
“I think Gov. Rauner and President-Elect Trump will work together well on most issues,” RTA Chairman Kirk Dillard says. “Gov. Rauner is hopefully relaxing and getting ready for his onslaught. Because he’s got a brutal job ahead of him after the first of the year in Springfield.”
Dillard was referring there to the lame duck legislative session, and the ongoing budget crisis, that Rauner faces when he returns from vacation out west.
Dillard says he lobbied Pence for federal mass transit funding, noting that Pence’s father drove a bus in Chicago.
The fundraising event raised up to $1 million for the Republican National Committee.