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'Stop the Madness': Anti-impeachment protestors turn out in Quad-Cities

'Stop the Madness': Anti-impeachment protestors turn out in Quad-Cities

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Seth Dickson drives from Galesburg to Davenport for work five times a week, Monday through Friday.

The 25-year-old and his father, Reece Dickson, made a special trip to the Quad-Cities Saturday morning to attend an event billed as a "Stop the Madness" rally protesting the potential impeachment of President Donald Trump in front of the Rock Island district office of U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline.

They were among six people who gathered an hour before the event in the parking lot of the now-shuttered Quad City Liquor store located across from Bustos' office at 24th Street and 4th Avenue.

By the time Illinois Rep. John Cabello, R-Rockford, spoke to the crowd, there were over 60 people on hand, many holding signs or carrying Trump flags.

According to Mandi Merritt, the Republican National Committee's regional communications director, the gathering was part of a nationwide effort "to hold Democrats like Bustos accountable for their extreme actions and politically motivated behavior."

Bustos is one of 28 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who have not made public statements indicating support for the impeachment effort, which is linked to a whistleblower's report that the president may have sought help from a foreign power to find “dirt” on Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate.

In September, Bustos released a statement categorizing Trump’s actions as an apparent “abuse of power” and called for a “thorough and unimpeded investigation of the whistleblower’s report.”

The Dicksons said they were aware Bustos hasn't voiced support for impeachment, but they said they would have attended the rally simply to show support for Trump.

"I work for John Deere, and I was a Bernie Sanders supporter for a long time," said Seth Dickson, who was carrying a large blue Trump flag. "But I have never agreed with the Green New Deal. And as far as impeachment goes ... I just feel the charges against Trump are charged up."

Reece Dickson echoed his son's sentiments. He described himself as a longtime Democrat, Gulf War veteran, and a member of the Teamsters.

"I'm a union guy, and what really did it for me was NAFTA," Dickson said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement. "I live in Galesburg, and I've seen what that treaty has done to destroy jobs.  I think Donald Trump is for the American worker. And I understand capitalism. But I've just seen too many jobs go overseas. It has to stop."

Merritt said she wasn't surprised to see people at the rally from as far away as Galesburg — a 45- to 50-minute trip up Interstate 74.

"We've had pretty good turnout at the rallies so far, but it is always hard to predict," Merritt said. "We are just hoping for a good turnout, and Trump's supporters get a chance to send a message to Representative Bustos that it's time to do the job people elected her to do."

Cabello, who co-chaired the Trump organization's state campaign in 2016, said Democrats "are grasping at straws" starting any kind of impeachment process.

"It's just another distraction. There's a time to play games and a time to go to work," Cabello said before the start of the rally. "It's time to work — to do the work Americans need."

In conjunction with the anti-impeachment rallies, the RNC has debuted a new website, StopTheMadness.gop. It's billed as a one-stop clearinghouse to defend the president, and it offers opportunities for people to sign up as volunteers, get details about planned protests, and more.

A $2 million television and digital buy also is part of what the RNC is calling a "nationwide push against 60-plus vulnerable Democrats who campaigned on reaching across the aisle to work with President Trump."

That advertising has included local commercials featuring the image of Bustos with members of the Democratic caucus, including Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.; Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.; and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. The commercials call all four women "radicals."

The commercial is a clear attempt to link Bustos to politicians Trump has singled out as "enemies" as recently as this week.

"Our democracy is not negotiable," Bustos, the chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Wednesday in a prepared statement. "It is sacred and certainly not to be traded at any price."

Merritt defended the commercials.

"Bustos is one of the Democrats who promised to work with President Trump and then turned her back on him," she said. "Representative Bustos should be working on issues that really matter to the people of Illinois. That's radical."

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The Quad-City Times (Moline Dispatch Argus) is saddened to learn of the death of long-time Scott County Treasurer Bill Fennelly. We send our condolences to his family, friends and Scott County colleagues. Here’s a look back at his life, written a year ago, when he opted not to seek reelection. Stay tuned for more coverage about his long life and career.

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