GOP delegates love Pence _ even those who don't like Trump

AP News
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Posted: Jul 15, 2016 4:22 PM
GOP delegates love Pence _ even those who don't like Trump

CLEVELAND (AP) — Delegates to the Republican National Convention embraced Donald Trump's choice for vice president Friday — even those who have yet to warm up to Trump.

Some delegates hope the choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will help unite Republicans and fire up the party base to support Trump.

Not everyone is on board. But at the very least, Trump has all but assured that next week's convention vote for vice president will go smoothly.

"It's surprisingly — and you can print this — a pretty smart choice," said state Rep. Justin Everett, a Colorado delegate. "It's a strategic pick and I appreciate it but I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. ... It's window-dressing."

Tom Rath, a New Hampshire delegate and longtime adviser to GOP campaigns, called Pence a "solid pick" who "should be reassuring to a lot of people in the party."

"Pence is a stabilizing factor," Rath said.

Still, when Rath was asked if he's now supporting Trump, he said simply, "I'm a John Kasich delegate."

Wisconsin delegate Roger Stauter was succinct: "Mike Pence is a good choice. Donald Trump is not."

Trump has been unable to rally some Republicans who question his temperament as well as his conservative bona fides. Late Thursday, Trump allied with party leaders to head off an attempt to let delegates vote for the candidate of their choice, rather than the candidate who won them.

The Republican National Convention kicks off Monday. Several key committees have been meeting this week.

Kendal Unruh, a Colorado delegate who is leading the never Trump movement, called Pence "a great pick."

Still, she's not sold on Trump.

"Voters don't vote for vice presidents," Unruh said.

Pence has a strong reputation among fellow Republicans as a social conservative. The former congressman has plenty of Washington experience and a calm, thoughtful demeanor that stands in stark contrast to the bombastic Trump.

"He burns cool and Trump burns hot," said California delegate Shawn Steel, who is serving as sergeant-of-arms at the convention. "It's the perfect contrast."

Steel called the Pence pick "the smartest decision Trump made since he decided to run for president."

Florida delegate Brian Ballard said the pick would ease fears some conservatives have about Trump.

"It helps put an end to these never-Trump guys. It puts a knife in that," Ballard said. "It gives a lot of folks a real reason to say Trump is not going to surround himself with a bunch of whack jobs in the cabinet and his administration."

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Associated Press writers Nicholas Riccardi in Denver, Kathleen Ronayne in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, Michael R. Blood in Los Angeles and Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, contributed to this report.

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