Trump's convention gives platform to some with fringe views

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In this image from video, Abby Johnson speaks from Washington, during the second night of the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020. (Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via AP)

WASHINGTON – An advocate of “household voting” in which husbands get the final say. A woman who has argued that school sex ed programs are “grooming” children to be sexualized by predators like Jeffrey Epstein. A candidate who has peddled in racist tropes and bizarre QAnon conspiracy theories.

President Donald Trump has long surrounded himself with controversial characters who hold out-of-the-mainstream views. But the decision by the party to elevate some of those figures by featuring them in prime-time spots at the Republican National Convention or inviting them to witness this week's events is drawing new scrutiny.

Trump's comfort with the far-right fringe got uncomfortable for his party Tuesday. At the last minute, Republicans pulled a prerecorded speech by “Angel Mom” Mary Ann Mendoza from the program, after she fired off a now-deleted tweet directing her followers to a series of anti-Semitic, conspiratorial messages.

Mendoza, whose son was killed in 2014 in a head-on collision with a drunken driver living in the U.S. illegally, had recorded remarks highlighting the president’s fight against illegal immigration. But her spot was pulled after the Daily Beast reported that she had promoted a thread from a QAnon conspiracy theorist that was rife with anti-Semitism and claimed the Titanic was sunk to kill opponents of the Federal Reserve.

Mendoza, who has made frequent appearances at the White House and Trump campaign events along with other “Angel Moms," apologized for the tweet, writing that she had “retweeted a very long thread” without having read every post and said it didn't reflect her "feelings or personal thoughts whatsoever.”

But the campaign pulled the plug anyway. “We have removed the scheduled video from the convention lineup and it will no longer run this week,” Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

Republican Jewish Coalition executive director Matt Brooks applauded the decision, saying “her views clearly disqualify her from addressing the convention."

“We are pleased that convention officials took prompt action to make sure the convention reflects who we are and our values as a party,” he said.