Nevada delegation: Time at Republican National Convention rewarding

The Nevada delegation to the Republican convention, despite being divided in its candidate support, is allied in Cleveland, Ohio, according to Ron Knecht, state controller.

“There is a lot of unity and good feeling and camaraderie among the Nevada delegation. For the vast majority of us, this is our first convention and we’re all sort of wide-eyed,” said Knecht, one of 30 Nevada delegates.

Knecht said about half of the delegates are supporting Donald Trump, the presumptive nominee, while the remainder are evenly divided between Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Marco Rubio with Knecht as the sole Nevada delegate for Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

“We’re bound by the outcome of the caucus and the delegates are elected separately,” said Knecht, who volunteered to be the lone Kasich representative. “I took the bullet for them.”

On Tuesday, on the floor of the convention Nevada delegates, Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald awarded 14 delegates to Trump, 7 to Rubio, 6 to Cruz, and 1 to John Kasich.

Knecht said so far the convention is playing out as he anticipated.

“My experience so far is this is turning out much like I expected last week based on the development you were seeing between Trump and the (Republican National Committee) smoothing things over and avoiding a real serious rules committee fight,” said Knecht.

There was a brief skirmish on the floor of the convention Monday when some opposed to Trump’s nomination tried to force a state-by-state roll call vote on the rules of the convention.

“My expectation last week was if you’re looking for turmoil or looking for drama or looking for conflict, you better look in Philadelphia,” the site of the upcoming Democratic convention, said Knecht. “You’ll probably not see too much there either.”

Knecht picked up his wife and daughter at the airport Monday night and was unable to attend the convention’s first evening, which included speeches by Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and retired General Michael Flynn.

Nevada delegate Amy Tarkanian said she was “in awe” of Melania Trump during her speech on the first night of the convention.

“She was stunning inside and out,” she said when the Associated Press reached her by phone Tuesday.

“I love the way she loves her husband. You could tell by her body language — it did not come across cold and staged.”

Tarkanian, a former Nevada Republican Party who publicly supported Carly Fiorina and John Kasich earlier in the race, said it was reassuring to get little insights into the couple’s relationship.

“Even though I’m already on board (with Trump), it’s still good for me to feel good about being on board,” she said.

But coverage of Melania Trump’s speech quickly turned to some passages that appeared to be lifted from Michelle Obama’s 2008 address. Tarkanian said she didn’t know who wrote the questionable portions of Melania Trump’s speech, but condemned plagiarism and said whoever was responsible should be held accountable.

“Obviously needs to be reprimanded and fired. Once again it takes away from someone who worked so hard,” she said.

Patty Cafferata, another Nevada delegate, called Melania Trump’s speech “riveting” and said was surprised at the heavy emphasis on segments that sounded like Obama’s words.

“She was sincerely talking about her life and being a mother and wife,” Cafferata said. “A lot of mothers would say that.”

Tarkanian was planning to attend an event with Ohio Gov. John Kasich outside of the convention.

She endorsed Kasich earlier in the race, and said she was disappointed that he was boycotting an event that was bringing thousands of people and millions of dollars to his state.

“He doesn’t have to jump up and down on the couch, he doesn’t have to wear a Trump T-shirt,” she said.

“But he could show up and be appreciative.”

The Republican Party adopted a platform Monday that some are calling the most socially conservative in recent memory. It continues opposition to same-sex marriage, formally opposes bathroom choice for transgender people and opposes public funding for Planned Parenthood.

Nevada delegate Juanita Cox, a member of the platform committee, said she was unsuccessful in trying to remove portions that she called “very restrictive.”

“Perhaps it’s OK for the older Americans who lived in older days,” she said about the platform. “This is less appealing to Millennials.”

The platform would hurt the party in its attempt to reach out to the general population, Cox said.

“We just believe that people should take responsibility for their actions, and who are we to judge?” she said.

Knecht said he thinks he speaks for most Nevada Republicans when he says he’s more concerned about limiting the size of government than advancing a social agenda.

“The breakdown of the family structure is an overwhelmingly big problem,” he said. “At the same time, if we drift into mixing religion and government, we’re in real trouble.”

Ben Carson, the former Republican candidate, spoke at a luncheon held by the Nevada delegation on Tuesday and Knecht said he was looking forward to several speeches in the days ahead.

“I hope Mike Pence gives a good speech (Wednesday) night, and the Trump kids tonight,” said Knecht, referring to the Indiana governor and vice presidential pick, and Tiffany and Donald Trump Jr. who were scheduled to speak Tuesday.

“And I hope the candidate does something to pull us all together, energize us and lift us up,” Knecht said.


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