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Potential Supreme Court candidates during a second President Biden term

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Potential Supreme Court candidates during a second President Biden term

WASHINGTON — A continuing focus on diversity appears to be the political strategy for how President Biden would approach filling any Supreme Court vacancies in a second term. 

Sources close to the White House and his re-election campaign say the president would use the successful nomination of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson as a template for navigating any future high court opening.

For now, officials say he plans to more prominently tout Jackson’s confirmation to various key constituencies as the presidential campaign intensifies, especially to Black voters who will be key to his re-election.

After Justice Stephen Breyer announced his 2022 retirement, Biden committed early on to naming the first Black woman as his replacement and gathered a number of qualified jurists for initial vetting. That internal list then expanded before three finalists were ultimately reached — Jackson and judges Leondra Kruger and J. Michelle Childs. Kruger and Childs remain top contenders for the Supreme Court, sources say.

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President Biden arrives at Omaha Beach to commemorate “D-Day” in France. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)

The president, in public remarks, has made much of the diversity of his judicial nominees for the courts. Almost two-thirds are women, more than twice those named by President Trump in his single term (Biden 127; 64% as of May 22, versus Trump 55 total; 24%). Biden has also named an equal percentage of members of a racial or ethnic minority group to the federal bench — about 64%.

Biden could make history with the first justice who identifies as Asian American or Pacific Islander and would have more than 30 AAPI judges he has named to the lower federal courts to choose from. 

But any retirement by Justice Clarence Thomas, who turns 75 June 23, or Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who turns 70 two days later, would put political pressure on the next president to name a Black or Latino to the Supreme Court.

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Overall, Biden has been actively finding qualified federal candidates to fill bench vacancies. His 200th federal judge was confirmed by the Senate last month, slightly outpacing the number by his predecessor at this point in his presidency. 

The following is an unofficial list of potential candidates for the Supreme Court by Biden. It was compiled from a number of sources, including officials within his inner circle, his political campaign and Democratic political and legal circles. 

The current White House administration, like those before, quickly began compiling an informal list of possible high court nominees to consider in the event of a sudden vacancy. But serious vetting only begins when such a vacancy occurs or is announced in advance by a retiring justice.

Justice Leondra R. Kruger at a hearing.

Justice Leondra R. Kruger at a session at the California Supreme Court in Los Angeles. (Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

  • Leondra Kruger, California Supreme Court Justice

Born in 1976, Kruger is a former Obama Justice Department lawyer and argued 12 cases before the Supreme Court. She also clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens and was a finalist for the 2022 court seat that went to Brown Jackson. Her sterling resume and relatively young age could continue to make Kruger a strong favorite for a Supreme Court seat, especially if Thomas retires. She’s considered something of a moderate on the state high court and often a “swing” or deciding vote in close cases. But state judges rarely receive serious consideration for the U.S. Supreme Court. The last was Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 1981. Kruger’s parents were both pediatricians. Her mother is Jamaican. Her late father was the son of Jewish immigrants. She gave birth to a daughter in March 2016.

  • Sri Srinivasan, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Washington

Born in 1967 in India, Srinivasan was later named to the court in 2013 (97-0 vote), months before colleague Patricia Millett joined him. He is now chief judge on that bench. He was a finalist for the seat that Garland was nominated for. The son of Indian immigrants and raised in Kansas. Padmanabhan Srikanth Srinivasan was the principal deputy solicitor general at the Justice Department and argued more than two dozen cases before the Supreme Court. He would be the high court’s first Asian American. He clerked for Republican-nominated federal judges Harvie Wilkinson and Day O’Connor. Obama called him “a trailblazer who personifies the best of America.” Known as low-key, practical and non-ideological, he may not excite many progressives, nor give conservatives much to dislike. 

Fun fact: Justice Elena Kagan has praised him (both worked together in the Obama SG’s office), saying Srinivasan “cools it down” with his calm manner during oral arguments.

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  • Elizabeth Prelogar, U.S. Solicitor General (pronounced: PRE’-low-guhr)

Born in 1980, Prelogar became the 40th solicitor general in October 2021, after serving for months in an acting role. The Idaho native clerked for justices Ginsburg and Kagan, a former solicitor general, and for then-Judge Merrick Garland on the D.C. Circuit appeals court. Besides Kagan, former solicitors general to later become a justice include William Howard Taft, Robert Jackson, Stanley Reed and Thurgood Marshall.

Fun facts: She was a beauty pageant contestant named Miss Idaho in 2004 and appeared last fall on the NPR quiz show, “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me” (her topic was vacuum cleaner salespeople).

  • Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General

Born in 1968, Monaco was a former federal prosecutor and national security adviser under Obama from 2013-2017. She worked as a researcher under then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden starting in 1992. Monaco would also be a favorite for attorney general in a second Biden term if Garland retires.

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi testifying at a hearing.

Candace Jackson-Akiwumi testifying at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. (Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

  • Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Chicago

Born in 1979 in Norfolk, Virginia, both her parents are judges, U.S. District Judge Raymond Alvin Jackson and former Norfolk General District Court Judge Gwendolyn Jackson. A former federal defender in Chicago and, before that, a partner in a D.C. law firm, Jackson-Akiwumi was nominated by Biden in March 2021, one of three Black women named to appeals court seats in the administration’s first months.  

  • J. Michelle Childs, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Washington

Born in 1966, Childs was nominated in December 2021 to serve on the high-profile D.C. Circuit appeals court, replacing the retiring Judge David Tatel. She was Biden’s second Black woman on the D.C. Circuit, after now-Justice Jackson. Sources say Rep. Clyburn (D-S.C.) strongly pushed the White House to name the South Carolina-based Childs to this seat. The D.C. Circuit is seen as something of a professional stepping stone to the Supreme Court. Besides Jackson, recent justices who earlier served on that appellate bench include John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh and the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Antonin Scalia. Childs had previously been a federal district court judge since 2010. The Detroit native went to law school at the University of South Carolina.

Born in 1974, Pérez was a 2021 appointee to her current seat. She previously served at the progressive Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law as director of its Voting Rights and Elections Program. A native of San Antonio, she would be given serious consideration, especially if Sotomayor retired.  

  • Nancy Maldonado, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois Judge, Chicago

Born in 1975, Maldonado was nominated for a seat on the 7th Circuit. She would be the first Hispanic judge on that federal appeals bench. Her nomination to the high court would have a strong backer in her home state of Illinois. 

  • Patricia Millett, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Washington

Born in 1963, Millett was named in 2013 to a bench considered a stepping stone to the high court, where four current justices once served (so did Justice Scalia). Formerly a private Washington-based appellate attorney — Obama called her “one of the nation’s finest” — who also had more than a decade experience in the U.S. Solicitor General’s office. Millett argued 32 cases before the Supreme Court, second-most ever for a female lawyer. Sources from both ideological stripes call her fair-minded, no-nonsense and non-ideological. Age may be a drawback for any future high court vacancies.

Fun fact: Her husband is U.S. Navy reservist Robert King, and the two met at a Methodist Church singles event.

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President Biden speaking at the White House lawn.

President Biden gives a speech at the White House. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

  • Cindy Kyounga Chung, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Pittsburgh

Born in 1975, Chung, a Korean-American native, is a Biden appointee to her current seat and a former U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh.

  • Roopali Desai, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Phoenix, Arizona

Desai was born in 1978 in Toronto, Canada, to parents of Indian descent. After law school in Arizona, Desai, as a private attorney, worked successfully with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to throw out challenges to the state’s 2020 presidential election results. She was then appointed by Biden to the largest federal appeals court. 

  • Lucy Haeran Koh, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, San Francisco

Born in 1968, Koh was renominated in 2021 by Biden to the federal appeals court. Her 2016 nomination expired with the end of the 114th Congress, and then-President Trump subsequently named someone else to the seat. The Oklahoma native is of Korean descent. Koh had been overseeing separate multidistrict litigation involving such tech giants as Samsung and Apple, Inc. She is married to state Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar (see below).

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  • Jacqueline Hong-Ngoc Nguyen, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Pasadena, California

Born in 1965 in Dalat, Vietnam, and named to the court in 2012 after two years as a federal district court judge, Hong-Ngoc Nguyen could make history as the high court’s first Asian American justice. She is already the first Asian American woman to sit on a federal appeals court. A former state judge, federal prosecutor and private attorney, he moved with her family to the U.S. when she was 10, just after the fall of South Vietnam to the communists. Her parents eventually set up a doughnut shop in North Hollywood, California.

  • Michelle Friedland, 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, San Jose, California

Born in 1972 and named to the appeals court seat in 2014, Friedland was sworn in by former Justice O’Connor, for whom she once served as a law clerk.

  • Arianna Freeman, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Philadelphia

Born in 1978, Freeman is a Biden appointee and the first Black woman on the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia. Her service as a former federal public defender in the City of Brotherly Love was criticized by Senate Republicans during her judicial confirmation. 

Tamika Montgomery-Reeves speaking at her confirmation hearing in the Senate.

Tamika Montgomery-Reeves testifying at her confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. (Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

  • Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Wilmington, Delaware

Born in 1981 in Jackson, Mississippi, Montgomery-Reeves was named by Biden in 2022 to her current seat after her service on the Delaware Supreme Court. Her home state professional roots would be an obvious selling point to the president. 

  • Paul Watford, private attorney in Los Angeles and former judge

Born in 1967, Watford’s age and background until recently made him a favorite among some liberal court watchers. Named to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in 2012, he resigned in May 2023 to go into private practice. He was a finalist for the seat that went to Garland in 2017, although that nomination ultimately failed. He clerked for conservative-libertarian former federal Judge Alex Kozinski on the 9th Circuit and later for Bader Ginsburg. He is also a former federal prosecutor and law firm partner. Supporters call the Orange County, California, native an ideological moderate, which may not sit well with progressives seeking a stronger liberal voice. But his rulings limiting police discretion in search and seizure cases have been applauded by left-leaning advocates.

Born in 1970 and of Taiwanese descent, Liu is a former Justice Ginsburg law clerk who helped draft her dissent in Bush v. Gore. Liu joined the state high court after twice being rejected in 2011 by Senate Republicans for a seat on a San Francisco-based federal appeals court. He was eventually filibustered after conservatives said he was “outside the mainstream,” expressing concerns over his past statements on a variety of hot-button topics such as same-sex marriage and health care reform. A Liu nomination would be among the most contentious made by a Democratic president. 

  • Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, former California Supreme Court Justice

Born in 1972 in Mexico, Cuéllar was named in 2021 as president of the D.C.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Nicknamed “Tino,” Cuellar served in the Obama and Clinton administrations and is a former academic specializing in administrative law. He is married to federal Judge Lucy Koh (see above).

  • Jane Kelly, 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Born in 1964, Kelly is only the second woman to serve on the St. Louis-based court, appointed in 2013 (96-0 vote). She spent most of her legal career as a federal public defender in Iowa. One of her biggest fans is fellow Iowan Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.

Fun fact: Kelly graduated in 1991 from the same Harvard Law School class as Obama.

  • David Barron, 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Boston

Born in 1967, Barron was confirmed to the bench in May 2014. He formerly served as acting assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, then went to Harvard Law School as a professor. He also clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens. Being a white male may hurt his chances if President Biden feels political pressure to replace Justice Ginsburg with another woman.

  • Robert Wilkins, D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Washington

Born in 1963, Wilkins is an Indiana native and was raised by a single mother. He graduated from Harvard Law School in 1989. He filed a civil rights lawsuit in 1992 against the Maryland State Police after being pulled over for speeding after officers were instructed to focus on young Black males when making lawful traffic stops.

  • Cheryl Ann Krause, 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, Philadelphia

Born in 1968, Krause was a law clerk for two Republican-appointed court judges, including Justice Anthony Kennedy. She was named to her current seat in 2014 by Obama. 

                

  • Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)

A few members of Congress typically get mentioned on these lists, often as a political courtesy, especially to those senators who would vote on any nomination. Frequently mentioned are two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee (and former 2020 presidential candidates) who gained national prominence during the Justice Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.

Booker, born in 1969, is the former mayor of Newark and one of four Black senators. Klobuchar, born in 1960, was a county prosecutor and adviser to former Vice President Walter Mondale. She was mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate for Biden and has frequently been mentioned as a high court candidate, dating back to 2009.

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Who Sat in Trump’s V.I.P. Box at the R.N.C.?

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Who Sat in Trump’s V.I.P. Box at the R.N.C.?

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The most prominent seats at the 2024 Republican National Convention were three rows of white chairs in Donald J. Trump’s V.I.P. box. For each of the convention’s four nights, members of the Trump family and prominent guests streamed in and out, joining the former president as he took in the show.

Here are some of the people spotted in the box each night.

Monday

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Mr. Trump entered the arena triumphantly on the convention’s first night, just two days after he was shot in the ear by a would-be assassin. Flanking him were his newly announced vice presidential nominee, Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, and Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, one of the evening’s speakers.

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

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Members of Mr. Trump’s family, former Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and House Speaker Mike Johnson, who presided over the roll-call vote formally nominating Mr. Trump, also appeared in the box.

Tuesday

Several Senate candidates and House leaders joined Mr. Trump in the box over the course of Tuesday night. Many of them also spoke from the stage, making the case for delivering control of Congress to Republicans in November.

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

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Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

The night’s final speaker was Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and Mr. Trump’s daughter-in-law. As the first Trump family member to speak from the convention stage, she talked about the attempt on Mr. Trump’s life in personal terms and focused on his roles as a father and grandfather.

Mr. Trump responded with applause, flanked by Mr. Vance and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the House majority leader.

Photo by Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

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Photo by Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

Wednesday

Mr. Trump began his evening at the arena seated next to Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, and to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, one of the finalists to be Mr. Trump’s running mate who was ultimately passed over.

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Other allies with speaking slots also appeared in the section, including Callista Gingrich, the former ambassador to the Holy See, and her husband, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and 2012 presidential candidate.

Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times

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Mr. Vance wrapped up the third night of the convention with a nearly one-hour speech introducing himself and his economic vision to the nation. Mr. Trump watched his running mate while seated next to Mr. Vance’s wife, Usha Vance, a lawyer, and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, another person who was under consideration to join Mr. Trump on the ticket.

Several Trump family members appeared in the box at that time. Kai Trump, 17, Mr. Trump’s eldest grandchild, also spoke that evening, characterizing him as “just a normal grandpa.”

Photo by Jamie Kelter Davis/The New York Times

Photo by Jamie Kelter Davis/The New York Times

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Thursday

By the time Mr. Trump delivered his address, the box was largely filled with his family members. Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, who both served as senior advisors to Mr. Trump during his first term, made their first appearances in the arena Thursday.

His wife, Melania, also made her first appearance of the week, taking a seat in the box just before her husband gave his acceptance speech.

Photo by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

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Campaign chairs say Biden is both 'more committed than ever' to presidential race and 'asking for input'

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Campaign chairs say Biden is both 'more committed than ever' to presidential race and 'asking for input'

President Biden’s top campaign advisors both weighed in on Friday to comment on widespread speculation surrounding the 2024 presidential race.

The first clarification came from Campaign Chair Jen O’Malley Dillon, who left no room for question during an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“The president’s in this race,” O’Malley Dillon told the hosts. “You’ve heard him say that time and time again, and I think we saw on display last night exactly why, because Donald Trump is not going to offer anything new to the American people. He’s the same person he was in 2020. He’s the same person he was at the debate stage.”

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Jen O’Malley Dillon, a top Biden campaign advisor, follows behind President Joe Biden, not pictured, on the South Lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

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O’Malley Dillon made clear there was no question that Biden is “more committed than ever to beat Donald Trump” — pushing back yet again on weeks and weeks of leaks and speculation claiming the president was close to pulling out of the race.

“We believe in this campaign we are built for the close election that we are in, and we see the path forward,” O’Malley Dillon continued. “The president is the leader of our campaign and of the country, and he is clearly in our impression, and what we’ve built, and in our engagement with voters, he’s the best person to take on Donald Trump and prosecute that case and present his vision versus what we saw last night.”

This rock-solid statement of commitment was slightly complicated just hours later by Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del. — co-chair of Biden’s re-elections campaign — who said the president is “weighing what he should weigh.”

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Biden at NAACP convention

President Joe Biden speaks at the 115th NAACP National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. (AP Photo/David Becker)

Coons told the press during a panel at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Security Forum that Biden is considering “who is the best candidate to win in November and to carry forward the Democratic Party’s values and priorities in this campaign.”

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He noted that Biden attended the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Washington, D.C., this month after a “very bad debate performance” and that the president “Did a press conference. Did campaign events. Did campaign rallies.”

“And there are folks still saying he is not strong enough or capable enough to be our next president,” he continued. “I disagree.”

Sen. Coons at work

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a top Biden ally, told the press that the president is “weighing what he should weigh” at the moment but later clarified that he is “with [Biden] 100%.” (Nathan Posner/Anadolu via Getty Images)

According to Coons, “There is a lot of concern and anxiety about this because the stakes are so significant. The consequences of this election are profound.”

Coons walked back this somewhat shaky comment just hours later with a post to social media professing total support for Biden’s re-election effort.

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“I fully support the President. He’s told me he’s in it to win it,” Coons wrote on social media platform X. “I’m with him 100% because I know he can beat Trump just like he did last time.”

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Forget the Oscars. For Republicans, the convention is fashion nirvana

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Forget the Oscars. For Republicans, the convention is fashion nirvana

From cowboy hats to straw bowlers, boots to stilettos — the Republican convention was a showcase of patriotic fashion that was anything but conservative.

Some attendees have been planning their outfits for months, others just raided their MAGA stash. Many, like the Texas delegation with their state-flag shirts, were matching.

But one rule kept them all in line: Red, white and blue or bust.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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Blacke Marnell California delegate from San Diego.

 Susan Reneau wears a collection of Trump buttons
Chaplain Richmond E Stoglin always wears his boots
Angelita Sanchez's of Sweet Home Oregon shoes during
Sharon Anderson of Tennessee wears a donkey hat.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Susan Reneau, left, Chaplain Richmond E. Stoglin, right top, Angelita Sanchez, lower left, and Sharon Anders, lower right.

Reecia Stoglin and her husband Chaplain Rich Stoglin.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

“We’re Texans,” said Reecia Stoglin. “We wear our flag proudly.” Stoglin and her husband. Chaplain Rich Stoglin, were in town from Arlington, Texas. Reecia wore a Texas-flag shirt favored by delegates from the Lone Star state. Stoglin, ordained as an Anglican priest, was a military pastor for nearly 30 years and now is the president of the Frederick Douglass Republicans of Tarrant County. He came in a deep red blazer and Lucchese boots. “You judge a Texan by the quality of his boots,” he said.

From right - Bill Henney, Charlie O'Connor and Gerald Bergen, sit outside the RNC and enjoy cigars.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

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From right, Bill Henney, Charlie O’Connor and Gerald Bergen, delegates from Pennsylvania, sit outside the RNC and enjoy cigars. Bergen said he was wearing his straw bowler hat in honor of his grandfather, Gerald Griffin, who wore a similar one to the 1948 convention (at least he thinks he did).

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wednesday, July 17, 2024 - Arizona delegate
Wisconsin delegate Bob Kordus at the Republican

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Arizona delegate Stacey Goodman, left, and Wisconsin delegate Bob Kordus, right.

Texas delegates wear custom baseball jerseys with Trump 24 on the back at the

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Texas delegates wear custom baseball jerseys with Trump 24.

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