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CA Republican Vice Chair: ‘Reporters are ignoring RNC’s diversity’

Dr. Ben Carson speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention, as a portrait of Hilary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic party nominee for US president, appears on screens, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 19, 2016.
Dr. Ben Carson speaks on the second day of the Republican National Convention, as a portrait of Hilary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic party nominee for US president, appears on screens, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 19, 2016.

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A writer for Donald Trump's company apologized this morning for using passages from a 2008 Michelle Obama speech in Melania Trump's speech Monday night.

Meredith McIver said she offered to resign, but Donald Trump refused to accept it. McIver previously worked on some of Donald Trump's books and was reportedly brought in to work with Melania after she rejected the draft written by two veteran speechwriters.  

While the controversy over Melania Trump’s speech has dominated the narrative of the Republican Convention, other stories have been breaking in Cleveland as well.

Concerns have been raised about delegations’ poor attendance, as well as the perceived lack of diverse voices on the floor.

AirTalk asked two Californians at the convention, Harmeet Dhillon and Jamiel Shaw, to weigh in.

Dhillon is a Trump delegate and Vice Chairwoman of the California Republican party. She is also is the 2016 RNC National Committeewoman-elect from California.

On Tuesday she began the convention proceedings with a Sikh prayer, and she emphasized that the delegations in Cleveland do contain a multitude of perspectives.

Interview highlights


Dhillon: I’ve seen reporters make such a big deal about the lack of diversity here, while studiously ignoring the fact that you had a Sikh prayer opening the events yesterday then you had a Muslim prayer closing them. [There is] a very diverse California delegation, for example. I don’t see that being reported. I see attempts to make stories out of stuff that aren’t really stories.

One of the stories that came out is that there were a lot of empty seats last night for the speeches and the event. What’s your sense comparing the mood in the hall [last] night versus four years ago in Tampa?

Dhillon: So I’m constantly monitoring my Twitter feed, and I saw that story come across, and it was completely false. I looked up into the stands and took a photograph myself; the stands were packed. If you take a photograph of the area behind the stage, that’s the only area that was empty last night. That is an exact example of my frustration with the false narrative.

Jamiel Shaw Sr. is an immigration activist whose son Jamiel Jr. was shot to death in Arlington Heights in 2008. His killer, Pedro Espinoza, was in the United States illegally.

Shaw, a self-identified Independent, spoke about being an African-American Trump supporter, and how politicians’ responses to his son’s death led him away from the Democratic Party.

Interview highlights

African-American voter registration is overwhelmingly Democratic. As an African-American supporter of Donald Trump, have you gotten a lot of criticism from Southern California African-Americans that you would support him?

Shaw: Of course. It goes both ways. You’ve got the people who are just anti-white people to the people who are just black Republicans. It’s a big spectrum, and I’m focused on the ones who support what I’m trying to do. I don’t have time to try and change people’s minds. I just tell them what happened. ‘This is what happened to me.’ If that [doesn’t] affect you, then, technically, screw you, because I’m telling you what happened. Somebody died. In real life. No matter what you heard about on TV. In real life there was a kid who was walking down the street and was shot dead in the street because he was black by somebody illegally in the country. You can’t spin that.

I thought I heard you say that after the killer of your son was identified as being in the country illegally, that all these politicians who had rallied around you and provided support for you as a grieving father...disappeared at that point.

Shaw: I thought I was at a David Copperfield show. It was like ‘now you see me, now you don’t.’ On the serious side, yeah, when it first happened I thought positively that I would get a lot of support from black people just because my son was black, and he was killed by an illegal [immigrant]...I personally went to [Herb Wesson’s] office and talked to him, and the first thing he said to me is that I ‘opened a hornet’s nest.’ I was like, ‘Me, what did I do?’ He said, ‘They're gonna be protesting, and this and that.’ I said, ‘Wait a minute, my son is dead.’

This story has been updated and the interview edited for clarity. Listen to the full discussion by clicking the playhead above.


Lisa Mascaro, reporter for the Los Angeles Times; she covers Congress in Washington D.C and is attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Lynn Vavreck, professor of political science at UCLA; she tweets @vavreck

Zach Courser, Research Director of the Dreier Roundtable and visiting Assistant Professor of Government at Claremont McKenna College; he tweets @zcourser

Harmeet Dhillon, vice chair of the California Republican Party and 2016 RNC National Committeewoman-elect; she is also a delegate

Jamiel Shaw, speaker at the RNC this week; in 2008, his 17-year old son was fatally shot by Pedro Espinoza, who was in the country illegally