A co-chairman of Donald Trump's campaign said he has traveled to Burns, Oregon and wants to visit the militia currently occupying a federal building.
Jerry DeLemus is one of the "Veterans for Trump" in New Hampshire, but he wrote on Facebook that he has made it to Oregon where Ammon Bundy and other men are occuping a federal wildlife refuge.
"My first concern is to talk to the Bundys and see if I can get them and others home safely," he wrote, adding that he brought a videographer with him to document the journey.
Trump has said that the militia should stand down saying "You have to maintain law and order, no matter what."
Maybe he should tell DeLemus.
The 61-year-old with a white, close-cropped goatee, often pictured in various forms of militaristic camo gear, went on a 41-hour road trip to Nevada in 2014 to support the efforts of Ammon's father, Cliven, and ranchers in his standoff with the federal government.
DeLemus, who did not respond to a request for comment for this article, has a history of promoting militia action. In 2013 he tried to turn the Rochester, New Hampshire, wing of Glenn Beck’s 9-12 Group into a militia, at that time, to fight against the possibility of another financial collapse.
“I believe that we have another financial collapse coming soon and it will be worse than the one in 2008,” Delemus warned. “There are stark differences we must realize that we have nearly a 0% interest rate and our debt is nearly double. Not to mention our credit rating has been dropped. On top of this we have a government that has no respect or regard for the rule of law as provided in our Constitution.
“If we do not stand against this insanity we can be sure we will fully slip into tyranny. We are in a similar position our Founding Fathers found themselves in and their decision to stand was equally difficult.”
DeLemus is perhaps best known this campaign cycle for arranging a New Hampshire town hall in September during which Trump failed to correct a man in the audience who called President Obama a Muslim (something which now seems modest compared to Trump’s recent statements).
New Hampshire State Rep. Dan Itse, now a local town chair for Trump, introduced legislation to establish a permanent state defense force after hearing Delemus speak, but it was deemed inexpedient and died. He thinks that it’s still necessary.
“I am still interested in requiring the organization of the militia in the constitutional sense (RSA 111 State Guard). That is a militia of which the Governor is the Commander in Chief,” he told The Daily Beast. “I have made several attempts to require its organization. For several terms, the claim was that it would cost too much.”
He said he didn’t know what Trump would do if he were president now.
“I haven’t asked him,” Itse said. “I am supporting him because he is unrestrained by what the press and pundits say about him, and he doesn’t need the job.”
“My assessment of him is that he simply recognizes that this is not the America he grew up in, and he has the resources to do something about it,” he added.
One of the reasons DeLemus likes Trump so much is that he too abhors political correctness. In June last year, the radical wanna-be militiaman planned on scheduling a “Draw Muhammed” event in New Hampshire similar to the one which turned violent in Garland, Texas.
“I’m not worried about taking a risk,” he said at the time. “It’s more important to defend our way of life in this country, our constitutional rights, for everybody.”
Trump may not have been a big fan of this plan as he has previously criticized Pamela Geller, the Islamophobic writer behind the original Texas event. Earlier this week, another co-chair of Veterans for Trump said DeLemus hadn't discussed Oregon with him.
“I have not spoken to Jerry DeLemus about this situation at all,” Dan Tamburello, another co-chair of Veterans for Trump and a state representative in New Hampshire, told The Daily Beast on Monday. He said the group does not have an official stance on the militia occupation at the moment. But Tamburello thinks Trump is the best-equipped person to deal with it.
“I have no doubts a President Trump would seek a rational resolution to the situation, while carefully finding and dealing with the root cause,” Tamburello said. “Donald Trump is the world’s greatest negotiator; he would be fully capable of bringing things to a just conclusion considering all parties and the law.”
He added that he doesn’t have a great deal of knowledge about the Bundys latest anti-governmental stand.
“I have not examined the situation in Oregon in detail, so I do not have an opinion at this time. I do believe law-abiding citizens have an inherent right of self-defense and I am also a firm believer in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.”
Trump’s campaign has not responded to a request for comment about the issue and many candidates, on both the left and right side of the aisle, had little to say on Sunday when asked by The Daily Beast. A spokesman for Mike Huckabee’s campaign simply responded “what happened?” when asked and by the end of the day no one had a statement on the events which had transpired.
On Monday, one of the few candidates to discuss the issue at all was Ted Cruz, who interestingly enough has his own ties to Jerry DeLemus: Cruz joined a small group of lawmakers who briefly defended rogue cattle rancher Cliven Bundy.
In 2014, Cruz said he backed the core reasons behind Bundy’s fight for freedom, calling it an “unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government upon.”
“The details of the Bundy matter may be complicated,” Cruz said. “But I think the reason that this issue is resonating—it’s resonating in Nevada and Texas, and resonating across the country—is that for five years, we have seen our liberty under assault. We have seen our liberty under assault from a federal government that seems hell-bent on expanding its authority over every aspect of our lives.”
Now, nearly two years later, Cruz took a different tack and said that the militiamen should “stand down peaceably.”
“We don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence against others,” he added to reporters in Iowa on Monday.
Trump hasn’t commented on the Oregon standoff but it wouldn’t be entirely out of character if he came out and supported his militaristic co-chair and the Bundys. In 2014, during an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump said Cliven Bundy was making an admirable effort.
“I like his spirit, I like his spunk,” Trump said. “He ought to go and cut a good deal right now.”
Editor's Note: This story has been updated thoroughout.