Some Ohio Delegates Not Thrilled With Trump, But Will Likely Get On Board
By the time you read this, I will be in Cleveland, about to cover my 15th presidential nominating convention, Democratic and Republican, over the past four decades.
This one promises to be an event unlike anything any of us have ever seen.
A bombastic developer of high-rise towers and casinos who has gone through cycles of boom-and-bust over and over again throughout his career, a man whose celebrity grew as the host of a reality TV show, suddenly decides last year to run for the Republican nomination for president.
Very amusing, both the Republican establishment and the media pundits said at the time. But a fruitless endeavor, they said, a side-show to the main event – a contest of Republican mainstream establishment politicians.
But, after months of hurling insults at nearly everyone in sight – everyone, that is, who dared to disagree with him – here he is. The last man standing.
The Grand Old Party's nominee to become the 45th president of the United States.
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 11 million Republican primary and caucus-goers said so. Trump tapped into a simmering anger among many – not necessarily all Republicans – who are fed up with government in general and want change. Trump, to them, represents that change – even though the details of what would change and how it would change are still pretty vague.
Nonetheless, on Tuesday night, in Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, 1,543 delegates – 306 more than he needs for the nomination – will cast their votes for Donald J. Trump.
And then we will be off to the races. Trump versus Hillary Clinton for all the marbles.
But it will be a strange convention indeed. Many of the biggest names of the Republican Party have said they have no plans to attend. Usually, you can count on speeches from former presidents and former presidential nominees at a convention.
Not this time – President George H.W. Bush is staying away, as is his son, President George W. Bush. So too are the last two GOP presidential nominees Mitt Romney and Sen. John McCain of Arizona.
And on that convention floor – in a prominent position, as the host state – will be the Ohio delegation, which has 66 votes to give.
But those 66 are pledged to someone who, most likely, won't even be in the arena – Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a contender for the GOP nomination who, after a truckload of other contenders had fallen by the wayside, stayed in the race until the bitter end – never endorsing Trump, never releasing his delegates.
Kasich, who ended up with 161 delegates, never hid his disdain for Trump; and railed against what he called Trump's divisive politics throughout the battle for the nomination.
And he is clearly not at all interested in helping Trump win the key battleground state of Ohio in the fall.
Instead, Kasich appears much more interested in helping re-elect Republicans to the U.S. Senate and House. He's sent out fundraising appeals for Ohio's junior senator, Rob Portman; New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Arizona's McCain and the House Republican Caucus headed by Speaker Paul Ryan.
He'll throw a party for the Ohio delegation Tuesday afternoon at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which is near the Ohio delegation hotel.
Some in the Ohio delegation are on board with Trump, even though Kasich was their first choice.
Hamilton County Republican Party chairman Alex Triantafilou, a Kasich delegate, has been telling his party faithful here that he is "all in" with the Trump campaign, now that it is clear Trump will be the nominee.
"I think the divisions in the party are being overplayed,'' Triantafilou told WVXU. "The divisions in the party are not that great."
This convention, Triantafilou said, "doesn't have to be a coronation. But he has more than enough delegates. And I am going to respect the voters who gave us this nominee.
"Once Cleveland is all over, Triantafilou said, "I see us coming together."
Mary Anne Christie, the former GOP mayor of Madeira, says she is going to serve as a delegate the first two days and as an alternate Wednesday and Thursday.
Trump is not Christie's ideal candidate by any means, but, in the end, she says she can vote for him.
"In some ways, I'm glad for Trump in what he accomplished, winning the nomination,'' Christie said. "But I wish he would grow up and stop calling people names. He sounds like a 12-year-old."
This will be Christie's fifth Republican National Convention and she says she has "absolutely no idea what will happen" – either inside the convention hall or outside on the streets of Cleveland.
"It's just a very strange one,'' Christie said.
Christie said if the election were held right now, "I'd vote for him. But if he keeps doing stupid things, then no. Nobody really knows what we are going to do when we get into the voting booth."
Former Hamilton County commissioner Greg Hartmann, a Kasich delegate, was co-chair of the Hamilton County campaign for Romney in 2012. He won't be involved in the Trump campaign here this year.
Hartmann made it clear early on in the Ohio primary contest that he has no use for Trump and hasn't changed his mind since.
"Look, he's all we've got now,'' Hartmann told WVXU. "I'm not wild about him. I'm not saying he's dangerous, but a lot of this stuff he says he knows perfectly well isn't true – you can't ban an entire religion from entering the country, and this stuff about building a wall and making Mexico pay for that – well, that's just not going to happen. And he knows it."
But he does not want to see Clinton become president.
"That would be a disaster,'' Hartmann said.
Sooner or later, Hartmann said, a united front by the Republicans – from the top of the ticket to the bottom – is what the party needs.
"My concern is helping a lot of the other Republican candidates who are running down-ticket," Hartmann said. "No, I can't go out and campaign for Trump, but we do need unity. That's the important thing to me. Making sure the rest of the GOP ticket is going to make it."