Ohio Delegates And Others Admit To Having Trouble Facing Trump As Republican Nominee

Jul 23, 2016

Real estate magnate Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination last night. But that doesn’t mean the party is unified behind him.  Gov. John Kasich’s delegates attended the convention and many of them admit they have a hard time accepting Trump.

The Rolling Stones tune "You Can’t Always Get What You Want" blared throughout Quicken Loans Arena as Donald Trump left the floor after accepting the Republican Party's nomination for president.

The Ohio delegates at the convention in Cleveland didn’t get what they wanted -- their governor John Kasich, who won Ohio’s primary and all 66 of its delegates.  Kasich has not yet endorsed Trump. In fact, he didn’t go to the nomination or step inside the Q all week. Instead, he held events around town for his delegates. Early Thursday, at a breakfast in a hotel several blocks from the convention hall, he spoke to them about why he can’t endorse Trump right now. “We want politicians to stand on principle. And then whenever they do, if it’s not so much the principle that we like, we are not so much into them standing on principle," Kasich said. "I can tell you that when you stand on principle sometimes, you are all alone and that’s cool because in the end, it’s just you in the mirror, well, you, the mirror and the Lord. That’s the way I look at it and you’ve got to be comfortable.”

But some of the Ohio delegates, like honorary delegates Tony Maas and Ken Jones, said they had accepted Trump as the nominee before coming to the convention. They said the fact that so many hadn’t makes them uncomfortable. “It’s been a very strange week, the elephant in the room. I’ve never been around anything like this in my lifetime," Maas said. "Your coming to a Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio, for the swing state for the presidency of the United States of America and everyone is sitting in that room and not talking about who the candidate is, the Trump-Pence ticket,” Jones said.

But it’s not just Ohioans who have problems with Trump as the candidate. Other top Republicans, including all former living Republican Presidents, refused to come to the convention hall for the big event and, like Kasich, refused to endorse Trump. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a man who was thought to be a possible running mate for Trump, downplayed the party unity issue. “The party’s together," Gingrich said.

Yet the body language of the Ohio delegation during Trump’s speech spoke volumes. They sat most of the time while delegates in states that were positioned around them stood and cheered. The head of the Ohio Republican Party, Matt Borges, said he believes the GOP is more unified than some might think. Borges says the Republican base that supported Kasich is starting to warm up to Trump. “Things are smoothing out and I had a good conversation with Mr. Trump yesterday. So I think the message that we have to deliver is we are going to spend the next 110 days fighting Hillary Clinton, not each other,” Borges said.

A long time observer of state politics agrees. Former Ohio House Speaker JoAnn Davidson said, that Trump gave a solid address and outlined his concerns about the economy, eduation, immigration, trade and security pretty well. “I’m sure people will want more details on it as we develop the campaign but I thought it was a very strong speech,” Davidson said.

The question remains as to whether the Republican faithful in Ohio will really put time and energy into helping to get Trump elected. Only one thing’s for sure, according to Borges -- this convention will go down in history. “This is one that they’ll talk about for a long time. A lot of drama, sub plots and interest,” Borges said.

No Republican has won the presidency without winning Ohio. So expect Trump to be like other candidates in the past - making frequent trips to the Buckeye State this fall.