Denver Republican Party chairman hears from White House after incident at LGBT pride parade

Author: Ernest Luning - June 20, 2017 - Updated: June 21, 2017

The South Portico of the White House in Washington on Friday, May 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)The South Portico of the White House in Washington on Friday, May 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Denver Republican Party Chairman Jake Viano can scratch a big item off his bucket list. On Monday, he received a phone call from the White House to thank him and GOP volunteers for remaining calm during an altercation with a protester at Sunday’s PrideFest Parade in Denver.

“I was really stunned,” Viano told Colorado Politics. “It’s not every day you get a call from the White House.”

Viano said he’d been hearing from people all over the country after news broke that a masked protester had approached Denver Republican volunteers preparing to take part in the LGBT pride parade, yelling obscenities while scattering fliers and attempting to rip a banner featuring a quotation by President Donald Trump off the party’s parade entry.

He wasn’t too surprised to see he’d missed a call from the 202 area code, but when he listened to the voice mail and discovered it was someone named Roz from the White House calling, Viano said with a laugh, “it was a pretty cool feeling.”

It turns out it was Roz Leighton, a White House political aide — she’s a former executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party — and she was calling to convey a message of support from the Trump administration.

“When we spoke, she said, ‘I wanted to thank you for what you did there, for keeping your cool,'” Viano said, sounding like he was still pinching himself. “She said she’ll keep in touch and would be scheduling a call every two weeks or so to make sure we have what we need.”

Viano said with a chuckle that he wasn’t sure what he’d be asking the White House to provide but was giving it some thought.

In the aftermath of the incident, Viano added, he’d also been pondering how divisive politics has become and had come to some conclusions.

“I believe that we can coexist peacefully, that every time somebody doubles down it furthers the political divide, and it’s getting to a dangerous point,” he said. “I firmly believe that Republicans and Democrats equally love their country; we just have different philosophies. We need to work to find commonalities. When I’ve done that on a one-to-one basis, we find we have a lot of commonalities, but too often it turns into screaming matches, which only furthers the move toward black masks.”

Viano paused for a moment and then continued: “We need to approach our fellow Americans as that — our fellow Americans, and not the enemy.”


Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


  • marcia tewell

    June 21, 2017 at 9:51 am

    It was a good response, but should be a standard one in a respectful culture. It is a sad time when we get praise for not body slamming another person who has challenged our ideas or interrupted an event.
    The escalation ALWAYS only gets worse without someone intervening to reverse the tension and conflict.

    The attention drawn to his is good as maybe the behavior will be repeated again sometime!

  • Bret In Monument

    June 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Of course you did, because it’s Trump, and all he’s concerned about is his brand. If the incident hadn’t included something with his name on it, you wouldn’t have heard a word. This is the kind of tactic that is his bread and butter, and people eat it up. It’s also the reason this life-long Republican left the party.

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