CLEVELAND — President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have invited a number of symbolic guests to join them at Tuesday night’s highly anticipated first presidential debate in Cleveland.
As the two candidates try to hammer home their differing visions for America, the president will bring along a woman he freed from prison and the widow of a retired police officer who was killed during protests in St. Louis.
Among the commander in chief’s guests are Alice Johnson, a criminal reform advocate who was serving a life sentence in prison when Trump commuted her sentence her in 2018 under lobbying from Kim Kardashian West.
Ann Dorn, the widow of St. Louis police Capt. David Dorn, who was fatally shot as he tried to defend his store amid looting and protests in Missouri in June, will also be in Cleveland.
Both Johnson and Dorn gave passionate speeches endorsing Trump at the Republican National Convention.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani and UFC fighter Colby Covington have also been invited to the first face-to-face match-up between the septuagenarian candidates.
Spotted on Air Force One as Trump departed Washington, DC, were GOP Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, Donald Trump Jr., White House adviser Ivanka Trump, campaign director Bill Stepien, White House counselor Hope Hicks and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
Trump made waves in 2016 when he invited four women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to sit in the audience during his debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
The women were seated in the VIP box close to the debate stage in a move designed to rattle Clinton until security moved them to sit with other ticketed guests.
Malik Obama, Barack Obama’s half-brother who is a Trump supporter, was another one of the eyebrow-raising guests at the third presidential debate four years ago.
It’s unclear if Trump 2020 will try to pull another headline-grabbing stunt in Cleveland.
The Biden campaign has also tapped guests who will highlight their agenda, including Kristin Urquiza, whose Trump-supporting father died of the coronavirus in Arizona in June.
Urquiza delivered a blistering speech at the virtual Democratic National Convention in August, where she said her father was healthy but described his “trusting Donald Trump” as a “preexisting condition.”
Gurneé Green, a small-business owner from Ohio, and James Evanoff Jr., a member of the United Steel Workers union, will also be in the crowd at the scaled-back affair amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Vice President Biden’s debate night guests represent the working families he will fight for as President, and they each highlight how Donald Trump’s failures to control the virus and save the economy have hurt hard working Americans lives and livelihoods,” the campaign said in a statement.
The Cleveland debate kicks off at 9 p.m. Eastern Time and will be the first of three presidential debates between the pair and is their first face-to-face brawl.
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