Trump gets a bump in the polls
Donald Trump’s performance at the July 18-21 Republican National Convention seems to have translated into a bump in national polls, according to a CNN/ORC survey released four days later.
That’s good news for Delaware’s convention delegates, who have returned to the First State anticipating a victory for the Trump ticket come November.
“My expectations going in were that we’d spend three or four days unifying and consolidating what our mission and platform would be and then go home energized for election day,” noted Charles Copeland, state Republican Party chairman.
“I think largely we met that,” Copeland continued. “It wasn’t the straight path I had anticipated, but it worked out quite well.”
Delegate Tim Houseal, a Wilmington attorney who was on the platform committee and who initially supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, concurred.
But Houseal had some butterflies early on, he said.
“If you’d asked critics for predictions, a lot would have said they expected it to be a disaster because they didn’t have a lot of faith in Mr. Trump or his campaign to carry out a successful convention,” Houseal said. “But the critics were wrong; the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee had a stellar convention.”
Like Houseal, not all of the First State’s 16-member delegation initially supported the New York billionaire in his quest for the White House, but they unanimously cast their votes for him during the Tuesday night roll call.
“Once Trump won the Delaware Republican primary, we understood what our job was, which was to nominate him from the Delaware delegation,” Copeland said. “We were very united on that, there’s no question.”
Although he considered Trump’s acceptance speech “a little too long,” Copeland was pleased with the emphasis on economic growth, a strong military, supporting first responders and border security.
Houseal said Trump mostly stayed on message during the 75-minute address, which was interrupted frequently by loud and long applause.
“I found it interesting, it was different from what I expected,” he said.
“He frequently ad-libs a lot,” Houseal said. “Prior to the convention he was notorious for ad-libbing, and when he does that his language is imprecise or impolite. But for the most part he stuck to the script, and when he did ad-lib he did not create any additional problems from his spontaneous comments.”
Former Delaware GOP Executive Director John Fluharty, who is openly gay, was not overly pleased with the official party platform that still does not support gays, but noted Peter Thiel, a gay Silicon Valley billionaire, was a featured speaker at the convention. Trump twice spoke about defending gays, although referring primarily to foreign ideologies.
“I would say by the end of the week I was much more encouraged by Trump and the potential direction of the general election than I was at the beginning of the week,” he said.
“We’re not where the Democrats are, we’re clearly behind, but that’s OK,” Fluharty said. “We’re getting there.”
Before Trump’s own acceptance speech, an appearance by former rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas garnered the most attention – mostly negative – from convention goers and the national media.
Fluharty, who attended but was not delegate, was not pleased with Cruz’s speech, whichhe failed to endorse the nominee. Cruz’s attitude angered many on the convention floor, Fluharty said.
“I really think the way he went about it was self-serving and hurtful to the party this year,” he said. “That’s one more reason why I don’t like Ted Cruz.”
Copeland likened the Texas lawmaker to a bridegroom who, once at the altar, says, “Wait a minute, I’ve got to catch a cab,” and runs off.
Many Cruz supporters already decided to move on with an eye toward November, and the speech just stirred up a lot of negative feelings, Copeland said.
But it also served another purpose – one that perhaps Cruz did not anticipate.
“I think it actually solidified the unity of the Republican base that was there,” he said. “Do I feel unified? I really do.”