RNC kicks off in Cleveland

Published 11:16 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

CLEVELAND –– As delegates from all over the country flocked to northeast Ohio for the Republican National Convention this week, support for reality television star, real estate tycoon and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is present by the majority, but varies at different levels.

“I support Trump because I don’t support Hillary (Clinton),” Davida Stikes, an alternate delegate from Texas, said. “I’m excited to see what Mr. Trump will do. We need strong leadership and not just talk, which is what I think we’ve been getting from Democratic leadership. I’m ready to see some action.”

Monday marked the first day of the convention at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, with a theme of “Make America Safe Again.”

Email newsletter signup

“I think it’s a great boost for the economy, which is badly needed,” Puerto Rico delegate Raymond Malina said of the convention being in Cleveland. “It’s great that Cleveland gets the first line of newspapers nationwide and is in the spotlight.”

He said that he supports Trump because he has no other choice.

“We’re facing the realities that this country has been subject to under the Obama administration and a potential Hillary administration. Obama is taking us to the bottom of the ocean like the Titanic, and there’s no hope for recovery with Hillary,” he said. “It seems like every minority group and illegal immigrants have rights that blue blooded Americans don’t have, and Trump has a clear view to start to correct that trend.”

Nebraska delegate Sam Fischer said Trump has his support because he’s the nominee of the Republican Party.

“Donald Trump offers a clear choice to Hillary Clinton,” he said. “And in the next four days, we’re going to show why he’s the better choice.”

A Ted Cruz delegate from Tennessee, Steve Gill said he is now supporting Donald Trump.

“I’m a Cruz delegate who’s in the never ever, ever, Hillary group,” he said.

He added that this is the first convention that he’s been to as a delegate since 1988 in New Orleans for President George Bush, although he attended Republican National Conventions in between as a member of the radio media.

“I support Trump because I’m an immigrant from a communist country who’s been here for 65 years,” Bohdan Kniahynyckyj, an alternate delegate from California who came here from Ukraine at 5 years old, said. “I’ve seen how far we’ve gone from a republic and I feel Trump is the most qualified to put us back on the right course.”

For Tennessee delegate Luke Elliott, this year marked his first convention.

“I think the city of Cleveland did a fantastic job preparing for the convention. The security is great, everyone is very friendly and I’m impressed by the whole set up,” he said.

As far as supporting Trump, he said there are some changes that need to be made in the Trump campaign.

“I’m a (Marco) Rubio delegate and I believe Trump needs to change his tone before he gets the support of young conservatives like myself in the way he talks about women and minorities,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, there’s a choice between Trump and Hillary, and I think Trump will create better opportunities.”

Some of the downfalls of Trump that Elliott said put worry into people are his aggressiveness and lack of knowledge of foreign policy.

“I think he comes off as too aggressive and too many people think he’s a loose cannon,” Elliott said. “But hopefully he’ll surround himself with people who know foreign policy well and he’ll stay out of personal attacks and have a more positive tone.”

The differing stances on Trump stood out just before the first session of the day went into recession, as about 10 states’ delegations were not allowed to have a roll call vote to change the rules to allow them to vote for someone other than Trump by the Republican National Committee. Yelling and boos followed, before Colorado’s delegation walked out from the convention floor.