Three bikers who support President-elect Donald Trump but dislike each other are organizing separate inauguration rallies, confusing would-be participants and causing turmoil within one of Trump’s most enthusiastic and visible bases of support.
The three have not joined forces for a large ride into the nation’s capital or a unified rally as robust counterweights to anti-Trump activists because of clashing personalities.
In conversations with U.S. News, the three men traded various personal attacks, ranging from claims of alcohol abuse, financial mismanagement, disrespect and fame-hogging to allegedly not owning a bike or riding one very often.
The disunified gatherings are likely to yield smaller numbers than a combined show of support, as they pull from a finite pool of inbound bikers excited by Trump’s unorthodox candidacy. The announced rally locations also are not conducive to intermingling.
Maryland native Bill Williamson – leader of the group 2 Million Bikers to DC – suggests gathering on the National Mall to “stop the libtards from ruining the [Trump] welcoming event.” The group was founded ahead of a well-attended 2013 ride to buzz a 9/11 anniversary event initially called the Million Muslim March.
To the north across Pennsylvania Avenue, Bikers for Trump – whose members paced the streets of Cleveland during last year’s Republican National Convention – plan to rally along the inaugural parade route. That group is led by South Carolina chainsaw artist Chris Cox and doesn’t have a specific Facebook event page, leading people to post on Williamson’s page, prompting a warning this week to “stop posting his crap on my event.”
A third rally called “Let America Hear Us, Roar for Trump” will be held during the parade in DuPont Circle, a large traffic loop about a mile northwest of the White House, the end point of the parade. That effort is led by former small-businessman Ski Bischof of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who has participated in many rides in the nation’s capital.
“The eagles are clashing. They each like their names out on front of everything,” Bischof says about Williamson and Cox. He says he hopes to offer a drama-free, remote-viewing alternative to the two events nearest to the parade, and says he’s put in the most footwork for lodgings and staging areas in Virginia to ride into the city and regroup after.
Cox, however, casts his event as the best positioned to succeed, citing his national organizing on behalf of Trump and permitted spot on the parade route. The drawback of that location is that it isn’t clear any bikes will be allowed.
Cox, a former GOP political staffer who boasts a Twitter shout-out from Trump himself, strenuously denies that he’s led his group in a fame-hungry manner, and says other organizers did far less to support Trump.
“One thing I’ve learned in politics is you’re going to come along a lot of wackadoodles,” Cox says.
The particular allegations and counter-allegations flying among the biker leaders can be as difficult to follow as the inner workings of the tabloid-feeding Kardashian family.
See photos of pro-Trump bikers:
Cox of Bikers for Trump says he believes Williamson of 2 Million Bikers to DC may have been drunk when he alleged in a recent Facebook post that Cox doesn’t own a motorcycle and that he’s “swindling” bikers by selling T-shirts and requesting donations.
“I wasn’t drunk, I was pissed,” Williamson fires back, accusing Cox of besmirching his reputation by alleging Williamson misappropriated the name Bikers for Trump. He says he helped Cox become famous by promoting him online, something Cox denies.
Bischof, meanwhile, says he also doesn’t believe Cox owns a bike and says a truck-driving Cox left a broken-down biker on the side of the road to make a scheduled TV appearance. He has no admiration of Williamson, either, saying that he disrespected a friend and doesn’t ride his bike often. He doesn’t like Cox’s fundraising, efforts to trademark Williamson’s group name or what he views as both men’s self-promotion.
“Ski was at my original ride,” Williamson says. “For whatever reason he can’t stand me and I don’t care. … Life goes on.” He says some people may dislike his leadership because of a falling out he had with a former spokeswoman for 2 Million Bikers to DC.
Cox, supporting his claim that the two other organizers are mistaken about his bike ownership, revved what sounded like a motorcycle during a phone interview and offered referrals to two friends who told U.S. News they were aware of and had worked on Cox’s bike. Cox says he doesn’t recall ditching a stranded biker for a TV hit, and says he never paid himself with donations or T-shirt proceeds.
Williamson suggests Cox recently got the bike, though one of Cox’s friends says he had it for some time. The other friend provided a screenshot that appeared to show Williamson praising Cox last year.
As if the three organizing efforts weren’t confusing enough, a fourth group calling itself Bikers 4 Trump claims it will have a presence at the inauguration. That group’s credibility is dubious and a request for comment was not returned. The group is selling bricks for Trump’s proposed wall along the Mexican border for $59.95 on its website.
“Buy Two! One for the Wall One for You!” it says.
Though the parties with seemingly credible organizing ability are in a circular firing squad, they also present themselves as capable organizers with peaceful intentions.
Bischof, who says he voted twice for President Barack Obama, is part of the white working class that delivered the Rust Belt and with it the election to Trump. He says he can no longer afford insurance because of rising costs associated with Obama’s health care reform law and closed his small remodeling business when a heart attack left him unable to lift heavy items. He says despite moving to the U.S. from Germany himself, it’s important to reduce immigration and focus on veterans.
Cox has big plans to use his group to support legislation while weeding out problematic “radical” members to maintain respectability and influence. He says Bikers for Trump has three general focuses: opposition to Islamic fundamentalism, support for veterans and new restrictions on immigration.
He says he hopes his biker movement will continue to hold sway after the election, and that he’s frustrated anyone would question his motives.
“Our group will soon have the same strength as the Christian Coalition,” he says, referring to the socially conservative pressure group that was influential in Republican politics of the 1990s.
“None of these guys ever got any traction. I don’t know if they’re jealous or what,” Cox says. “I sell T-shirts so I can keep my head above water. The whole time I ran this movement, at times I had money for a hotel, but instead of staying in a hotel I pull a 1968 camper on the back of a trailer, I piss in a Gatorade bottle and air conditioning is a fan. My heat is extra blankets.”
Williamson, who lacks a permit under the theory that the Constitution grants the permission necessary to assemble on federal park land, says he doesn’t hate the other two organizers. He just dislikes them and wishes they would put their egos aside.
“It doesn’t matter who has the biggest turnout. We just need to fill D.C. That is the goal,” he says. “Here is the bottom line: If you love Donald Trump, then I love you. That doesn’t mean that I have to like you or them. I am a hard-core Christian biker patriot. I have no time to hate those that hate me.”
As with ambitious anti-Trump protest plans to shut down major roadways, it’s unclear what exactly will happen.
Read more about Inauguration Day:
Morning worship service
The Inauguration Day’s morning worship service is a tradition that started in 1933 with Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor, when they attended a church service at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Since Roosevelt, all president-elects have attended morning worship services.
Photo Credit: Getty
Procession to the Capitol
After the service, members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies will escort the president-elect, the vice-president elect and their respective spouses to the White House. The president-elect and the outgoing president will hold a brief meeting prior to the swearing-in ceremonies.
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The swearing-in ceremony
The president’s swearing-in has taken place at the west front of the Capitol since President Ronald Reagan in 1981. From here, President-elect Donald Trump will “solemnly swear” to “faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.”
(Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
Since George Washington, all presidents have been expected to deliver a speech. Some of the most memorable speeches are still quoted today, such as F.D.R.’s “nothing to fear but fear itself” and, in 1961, John F. Kennedy’s “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Departure of the outgoing president
Following the inaugural ceremony on the Capitol, the outgoing president and first lady will leave the Capitol. The president’s departure begins with a little ceremony. The Obamas will continue their immediate post-presidential lives in Washington, D.C.
Once the newly elected president has taken the oath of office and delivered his speech, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies hosts a luncheon in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The event typically features the cuisine of the president and vice president’s places of origin.
Following the conclusion of the luncheon, Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence will lead a procession of marching bands, citizen’s groups, and military regiments down Pennsylvania Ave. The parade is organized by the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee select the parade’s participants.
The tradition of an inaugural ball starts with George Washington in 1789. In the days since, the ball has become a highlight of the D.C. society, as tickets to get into the inaugural ball are highly coveted. There have been a certain number of balls in recent years: Bill Clinton hit a record of 14 balls during his second inauguration in 1997, while Obama attended 10 official balls for his first inaugural in 2009. Trump will reportedly attend two.
(Photo by Diana Walker/Liaison)