Delawareans weigh in on RNC from Cleveland

DOVER — Excitement over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is building at the Republican National Convention, several Delawareans at the event said Wednesday ahead of speeches scheduled for the evening.

Delaware’s 16 delegates, who were bound to Mr. Trump based on the results of the state’s April primary, officially were pledged to him Tuesday. Of the states that voted in the primary before all other Republican candidates withdrew, only Rhode Island cast a higher percentage of its ballots for Mr. Trump than Delaware.

“The great state of Delaware, the first state to ratify the Constitution, the home of former Govs. Pete Du Pont and Mike Castle, the state that, with a diverse slate of millennial candidates, will win control of its state Senate this year for the first time in 44 years, the state that is going to elect 20-year Air Force Reserve veteran Hans Reigle to the United States Congress, casts all of its 16 votes for Donald J. Trump for president,” state party Chairman Charlie Copeland announced during the convention Tuesday when it was Delaware’s turn.

Mr. Copeland said Wednesday members of the GOP are united, dismissing some objections from a handful of states seeking rule changes as minor “internal squabbles”.

Several speakers have harshly criticized President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, something Mr. Copeland believes appeals to many Americans.

Charlie Copeland

Charlie Copeland

“The content has been so strong, and it has been condemning of Hillary Clinton’s tenure of secretary of state, the lying she’s been consistently doing, whether it’s on the email scandal or Benghazi, the list goes on, the fact she has left the world in flames,” he said.

Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett, who served as the Trump campaign’s Delaware chairman, is a floor whip at the convention, passing messages between the campaign and Delaware’s delegates.

He has greatly enjoyed the experience, calling the assembly “historic.”

Mr. Arlett praised the list of speakers who were scheduled to appear Wednesday, which included Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Mr. Trump’s vice presidential pick.

“This message of national security, protecting the people and growing our economy has resonated,” Mr. Arlett said.

He views the brief protests from a few other delegates seeking rule changes as just another part of the event.

“If there was no excitement on the floor it wouldn’t be a convention,” he said.

In contrast to the strong support from Mr. Arlett and Mr. Copeland, former Delaware GOP Executive Director John Fluharty, a delegate aide at the convention, has been more critical of the Republican Party and Mr. Trump.

“The party got the issues involving the LGBT community wrong,” said Mr. Fluharty, who is gay.

The GOP’s platform on gay rights includes the statement that marriage is between a man and woman. That view, Mr. Fluharty said, is contrary to what the party should stand for and is costing Republicans votes.

He is waiting to see what stance Mr. Trump takes on gay marriage and other LGBT issues before deciding whether he will vote for him — and he believes he is far from the only Republican who is undecided on the controversial billionaire.

“I am not convinced yet that all the folks on the floor are there yet” in regard to fully supporting Mr. Trump as the Republican nominee, he said.

Speeches from Gov. Pence and Mr. Trump, Mr. Fluharty said, will play an important role in showing if the two are on the same page and creating momentum for the party.

Both Mr. Arlett and Mr. Copeland waved off claims of plagiarism directed at Mr. Trump’s wife, Melania, whose speech Monday contained some similarities to remarks made by Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

Mr. Arlett claimed “they all do it” in references to speechwriters lifting sections of other addresses, and Mr. Copeland said the controversy is a result of the media trying to “change the subject from critical issues” like safety and the economy.

Mr. Trump will take the stage today, the fourth and final day of the event.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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