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Burgess Owens says country needs more ‘chimney sweeps’ in GOP convention speech

Owens said his great-great-grandfather came to America as an 8-year-old boy shackled in the belly of a slave ship. He credited his ancestor’s resolve to making it possible for him to be a candidate for Congress today

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In this image from video, congressional candidate and former NFL player Burgess Owens speaks from Washington, during the third night of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020.

Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via the Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Republican congressional candidate Burgess Owens sees himself as a “chimney sweep” in a Trump administration should voters elect him and return the president to the White House in November.

Owens said he lost everything after a decade in the National Football League that culminated in a Super Bowl championship with the Oakland Raiders. He moved his family of six into a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn.

Rather than feel sorry for himself after his business failed, he took a job as a chimney sweep during the day and a security guard at night.

“I’m running for Congress because we don’t need more career politicians. We need a few more chimney sweeps,” Owens said during a speech at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. “We need more leaders like President Trump who understand the freedoms that make up the fabric of America.”

Owens was among 20 speakers, including former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, on the third night of the convention that will conclude Thursday with President Donald Trump accepting the GOP presidential nomination.

A Fox News contributor and author, Owens is engaged in a tight race with Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams in Utah’s 4th Congressional District. A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll released earlier this month showed the two tied at 35% each. But nearly a quarter of voters in the poll said they don’t know who they will vote for.

In his three-and-half-minute speech recorded Monday in Washington, D.C., Owens condemned Democrats, praised Trump and honored his great-great-grandfather who came to America on a slave ship.

The country, Owens said, is at a crossroads. Mobs torch cities and “popular” members of Congress promote the same socialism that his father fought against in World War II, he said.

“We have a Democrat candidate for president who says that I’m ‘not black’ if I don’t vote for him,” Owens said.

More than ever, he said, the country needs leaders who will stand up to lawlessness supported by the “radical left.”

He cited increases in business ownership among Blacks, Hispanics and women under the Trump administration. And said those same groups enjoyed record low unemployment and unprecedented prosperity, and, “we’re just getting started.”

Owens said his great-great-grandfather came to America as an 8-year-old boy shackled in the belly of a slave ship to be sold on an auction block.

He escaped through the Underground Railroad and settled in Texas. He became a successful entrepreneur, built his community’s first church and first elementary school, and bought 102 acres of farmland.

“I’m here today, a candidate for Congress, because of my great-great-grandfather, Silas Burgess,” Owens said. “This November, we have an opportunity to reject the mob mentality and once again be the America my great-great-grandfather believed in.“

Owens said he was raised in the South in the days of Jim Crow and the Ku Klux Klan. Despite the challenges of segregation, he said, he was taught that anything is possible in the United States. This is a country where people are encouraged to dream big and where second chances are at the core of American identity, he said.

“We don’t hear that same message from Nancy Pelosi’s Congress,” said Owens, who watched the mostly pre-recorded convention at home.

Owens said it was humbling to be recognized cleaning a chimney by someone who once cheered for him in an NFL game. But, he said, those hard days paid off and he eventually had a rewarding career in the corporate world.

Career politicians, elitists and even a former bartender want people to believe that’s impossible, he said, referring to Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who worked as a waitress and bartender.

“They want us to believe that what I did, what my great-great-grandfather did, is impossible for ordinary Americans,” Owens said. “As patriots, we know better.”