CLEVELAND – Rep. Chris Collins – Donald Trump’s foremost supporter in the House – Tuesday delivered an impassioned sermon to the pro-Trump choir that is the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention, one that likely presages his higher-profile speech to a much more divided group of delegates later in the day.
“We cannot afford another legislator leading this country,” Collins said in a rousing speech that won him a standing ovation from the crowd of several hundred New York delegates and GOP mainstays. “We need a chief executive, not another politician.”
Collins’ speech, like the Republican convention itself, was as focused as much on bashing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee – Hillary Clinton – as it was on echoing the arguments that sealed Trump’s nomination.
Clinton has created one job in her entire life: one for her daughter, Chelsea, at the Clinton Family Foundation, said Collins, of Clarence.
Noting that polls show that 80 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, Collins said: “That means Hillary Clinton has 20 percent of the vote.”
Despite national and state polls that show Clinton leading in the race, Collins insisted that Trump would win. He noted that he sees Trump campaign signs everywhere, and even Trump cardboard cutouts on the front porches of homes in his congressional district.
That’s a far different image than the one that played itself out on the convention floor Monday, as two state delegations that support the “Never Trump” movement walked out of the arena to protest the lack of a floor vote on rules governing the convention.
Collins blamed the dust-up on “disgraceful Romneyites” – acolytes of the 2012 Republican nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Trump critic.
Despite outward appearances, Collins said: “This is a convention united behind Donald J. Trump.”
If a united convention does come to pass, Collins may have a little something to do with it. The first member of the House to endorse Trump, Collins will second Trump’s nomination in a brief speech from the podium at the convention set for 6:05 p.m. tonight.
Collins’ endorsement came at a time when many Republicans were looking to stop Trump.
“I’m sure he (Collins) didn’t have a lot of friends in Congress that week,” said Erie County Republican Chairman Nicholas A. Langworthy. “But he did it because it was right.”
Collins and Langworthy spoke at the New York delegation’s morning breakfast.
Wendy Long, who is challenging Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in November, also spoke at the breakfast. In a long speech delivered in a measured monologue, Long repeated many of Trump’s arguments – most notably that political correctness is hurting the country – and ended by saying: “Let’s take America back.”