NASHVILLE — President Donald Trump's roster of speakers at the 2020 Republican National Convention includes U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and a Georgia state Democratic representative, Vernon Jones, who became an outcast in his own party for endorsing Trump.
Others speaking at the four-day convention, which begins later Monday and culminates with the president's Thursday acceptance speech, is Memphis criminal justice advocate Alice Marie Johnson, an ex-inmate pardoned by Trump in 2018 on a drug conviction.
For Blackburn, this year's convention speaking role is nothing new. The Brentwood Republican addressed the convention on national television when she was congresswoman in 2008, 2012 and again in 2016 before going on to win a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 with Trump's endorsement.
Calling it an honor, Blackburn charged in a statement that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris of California and the "Washington liberals want to push our country over the cliff into socialism by implementing the Green New Deal, socialized medicine and stacking the Supreme Court with liberal activist judges.
"We can't afford a Joe Biden presidency, and we must re-elect President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for another four years so we can protect our Christian conservative values and American way of life," Blackburn said.
Blackburn is scheduled to speak Wednesday night following addresses by Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence.
Jones will speak Monday night. A former chief executive officer of Dekalb County, he drew fire from fellow Democrats after endorsing the president's reelection in April. Amid the furor, Jones announced he wouldn't seek reelection to his legislative seat and would resign his seat. He later changed his mind and said he would serve until his term ends.
In a tweet last week, Jones charged "the left tried to silence me. And when they couldn't do that, they lied about me. But it's all been worth it. I refuse to be another Black man they whip back onto their plantation. I'm Black, I'm free and I ain't voting for @JoeBiden. I'm Rolling with the @TeamTrump."
He is Georgia's only elected state Democratic official to endorse the president.
Speakers during the Democratic convention last week included former Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Tennessee state Sen. Raumesh Akbari of Memphis also had speaking roles.
Criminal justice reform advocate Johnson of Memphis was granted clemency two years ago and released from federal prison, where she was serving a life sentence on nonviolent drug and money-laundering charges. The president commuted her sentence at the urging of Kim Kardashian during a White House visit by the reality television star.
Johnson, 65, told the Daily Beast, "I'll be there talking about criminal justice reform, that is my main mission. I'm there because I've been affected by our criminal justice system, and that's my mission."
She is speaking on Thursday night, prior to the president's acceptance speech.
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