Posted: 3:34 pm Sunday, July 17th, 2016
By Jamie Dupree
From Cleveland, Ohio
While there is no real chance that Donald Trump could be derailed as the nominee of the Republican Party, GOP leaders are clearly taking no chances this week, as they try to insure as much unity as possible among delegates here at the Republican National Convention.
“If there is anybody in this room that thinks that there is going to be anybody else nominated and win on Thursday night – not gonna happen,” said John Padgett, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party.
At the first meeting of his state delegation on Sunday, Padgett implored Republicans from Georgia and others states to come together.
“No matter who you’re for, or who you’ve been for, when you get through with Thursday night, get on the Trump Train folks,” Padgett said to applause.
“We got an outsider,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), who echoed the call to get behind Trump, arguing he’s the guy that will shake up D.C.
“This is the best candidate Republicans have had in a long time,” Perdue added.
In fact, Perdue got so animated in making his case to delegates from Georgia, that at one point he knocked my microphone off the podium, accidentally swatting it with the back of his right hand.
But even in this delegation – a state that was won easily by Trump – there were rumblings at this first meeting about some delegates who may not vote for Trump this week.
“Somewhere between ten and fifteen,” admitted Scott Johnson, who was on the Georgia leadership team for Ted Cruz during the primary, but is now backing Trump.
In an interview, Johnson admitted it’s taking a little longer to forge GOP unity in 2016.
“The bottom line – everyone realizes that we cannot have a third Obama term with Hillary Clinton,” Johnson said.
One of those on hand for the Georgia delegation meeting was conservative activist Ralph Reed, who repeatedly encouraged delegates to get more involved in helping Trump.
“You could be a multi-county leader,” he enthusiastically told one woman.
But there were rumblings being heard from other delegations as well, like Ohio, where home state Gov. John Kasich still isn’t on board with Trump.
If you look at this week’s schedule for the Ohio delegation, there’s no mention of the Governor coming to speak; Kasich has an event set for Tuesday – outside of the convention – that seems certain to draw a lot of media attention.
But many Republicans don’t want to dwell on past troubles and rivalries, like that of Trump and Kasich, arguing it’s time to focus on one thing – defeating Hillary Clinton.
“We had a long and raucous primary campaign season,” said Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA).
“Now we’ve got to look ahead.”
That effort to promote lasting unity starts Monday afternoon in Cleveland.
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.