Ohio delegation to kick off busy Monday at RNC

RNC 2016: Delegates kick off convention with Monday breakfast

  • Speakers emphasized GOP message; never mention Trump
  • Convention described as “giant pep rally” for republican party
  • Ohio delegates will vote Kasich as required by law

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News Center 7’s Lauren Clark covered the delegation’s first breakfast event this morning that included Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey and former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar as speakers.

Those who spoke during this morning’s breakfast emphasized the Republican message — vowing to keep Americans safe and promising that Republicans are better prepared to lead the nation in November.

No one mentioned Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee who will accept his party’s nomination on Thursday.

Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey and former Cleveland Brown Bernie Kosar, also, never mentioned Trump by name, talking broadly instead about the values of the United States, or, in Kosar’s case, talking about Ohio.

The message, instead, was the Republican platform.

There were, however, mentions of the presumptive Democratic nominee.

“Maybe Hillary Clinton is running for president so she can pardon herself come January,” said Cotton, R-Arkansas.

The Ohio delegates are staying at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Cleveland, attending meetings and other events — and as one delegate described it, it’s a giant pep rally for the Republican party.

Delegates checked into the hotel on Sunday, and spent time shaking hands and exchanging hugs. Delegates are volunteers and not paid; individuals who have taken an active role in politics.

Melanie Wilt of South Charleston, an alternate delegate, worked on John Kasich’s gubernatorial election. Wilt said she got a call about being a “Kasich delegate” November of last year, and it was an opportunity she couldn’t turn down.

“It’s exciting to be able to be part of something,” Wilt said. “We only get to do this, as Americans, every four years. And to be able to be part of the time when I think our country needs to have a major turnaround, it’ll be exciting to see all the excitement kind of come to a head.”

Even though Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, all of Ohio’s delegates will be voting “Kasich,” Ohio’s governor who won the state primary. Kasich captured nearly 47 percent of the votes during Ohio’s primary, and delegates are required by law to represent the voters.

Kasich, who won’t speak during the convention, hasn’t endorsed Trump.

Some delegates are Kasich loyalists, while others say they will support the Republican party nominee.

“We are required by supporting John Kasich, who carried the state of Ohio on the ballot,” said Eileen Austria, an alternate delegate from Beavercreek. “We’ll do that, but at the end of the day, we will all gather around Trump as the nominee and move forward.”

Franklin County Auditor Clarence Mingo said he would not be voting for Trump in November.

“At this moment I’ll be standing by my conscience and I cannot support the top of the ticket,” he said, saying he wanted to see “better character” from Trump.

“I really believe it’s a historic week in the nation politically, but it’s also an historic week for the GOP,” Mingo said. “We really find ourselves tested between conscience and politics. Some of us are on the side of conscience, some of us are deep into the politics and it’s interesting to see us navigate that.”

Sunday night, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine hosted Ohio delegates and lawmakers at a party in Little Italy. DeWine is joining a chorus of voices encouraging delegates to embrace Trump.

“I think it is important for Trump to unify the Republican party,” DeWine said. “That has not happened yet. He needs to do that. I think it can happen. I think he needs to also show some humility. Get up there and say, ‘I made some mistakes. I’m not a politician.’ Maybe start like that and then talk about his vision for the future.”

We have a team of 15 reporters on the ground in Cleveland that will provide you in-depth coverage of this week’s Republican National Convention.

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