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Mike Ditka Declined Trump's Invitation To Speak At The RNC

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 30, 2016 4:44PM

Getty Images / Mike Ditka / Photo: Tim Boyle

Reports circulated Wednesday that the Donald Trump camp was reaching out to glory-days Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka to speak at the Republican National Convention. But the coach has no interest in addressing the the convention crowd in Cleveland next month, according to the Sun-Times.

It all began when Bloomberg reported that Ditka, along with former boxer Mike Tyson, had been invited to speak. But then Ditka claimed he had no contact with Trump or his associates. (Can you imagine a candidate with no fundraising apparatus and no full campaign staff not being on the same page with prospective speakers? Shocking.)

The two did finally converse Wednesday afternoon, in a three-way call brokered by Michael Sneed of the Sun-Times, according to the columnist.

The two were reportedly happy to share their mutual admiration.

“Coach Ditka, I really appreciate everything you’ve said about me. You are a winner. A real winner," said Trump.

"Everything you say about things, about the country, I agree with your opinions. You resonate with my kind of people. I believe in what you say wholeheartedly," replied Ditka.

But when the question of an actual speaking appearance was finally raised, Ditka retreated:
“I’m not big into doing things like that. I’m not going to change opinions, opinions are like assholes. I believe in the way the Constitution was written. But people want to change that. Immigration. Same thing. People want to change things. I believe in you and what you are saying.”

That, apparently, was when the connection was lost.

We're not sure exactly how to parse all of that, especially believing in "the way the Constitution was written" while also believing in what Trump says "wholeheartedly"—including, one assumes, unconstitutional religious tests.

That's for the follow-up call, perhaps. But at the moment it looks like no Ditka in Cleveland. For now, at least.

Ditka said last year that "I think [Trump] has the fire in his belly to make America great again, and he'll probably do it the right way. I do like him." In 2013 he called his decision to not run against Barack Obama for a U.S. Senate seat in 2004 "the biggest mistake I've ever made."