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[Audio, Slideshow] Western Kentucky Delegate Bill Bartleman at the RNC - Day One

Thousands of people are in Cleveland, Ohio this week for the Republican National Convention as members of the party converge behind presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. McCracken County 1st District Commissioner and former Paducah Sun journalist Bill Bartleman is a delegate and arrived at the RNC Sunday. Matt Markgraf speaks with Bartleman about his experience so far and what some of his goals are as a representative from western Kentucky.

The Republican National Convention opens today at 1 p.m. with speakers, including Donald Trump's wife. Another session is scheduled for tonight with speakers including some of the other GOP candidates who dropped out of the race earlier this year.

Bartleman says security has been especially tight. At the opening reception last night, he says every bus had an armed agent. TSA people worked security screenings. The two-square mile area around the convention is blocked off to the general public. He says there is some concern that some of the violence, as seen in the media, over the last three weeks could happen at the convention. He estimates around 3,000 members of law enforcement at the RNC.

In the area around the convention are displays, restaurants and other various groups. Bartleman estimates nearly 50,000 people in total - with more than 2,000 delegates, plus alternates and doubles, guests, press, business groups, etc. He says the city seems to be doing a good job and is so-far well organized.

The vibe thus far, he says, is people unifying behind Donald Trump, whether or not they supported him in the primary. He says most delegates he's talked to are there to unify behind him.

Kentucky Delegation

Bartleman says members of the Kentucky delegation are there to unify behind Trump as well, even those who didn't vote for him in the caucus. Among the Kentucky delegation, he says there is concern about Hillary Clinton and her agenda. He says they are excited to hear from Senate Majority Leader and Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell as well as State Senator Ralph Alvarado during primetime on Wednesday. He commented on how Alvarado had to cut his script down to 600 words for the teleprompter so as to keep the schedule on time.

Goals as a Delegate

Bartleman says the main reason he wanted to come to the convention was to build closer relationships with elected Republicans in Kentucky. He says there's a lot of opportunity to talk to members of Governor Matt Bevin's administration and hopes to meet some federal officials and people who might be in Trump's administration should he be elected.

Bartleman says he hopes to put some of the issues in western Kentucky on their radar: the Olmsted Locks and Dam, Kentucky Dam, Fort Campbell, Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, Land Between the Lakes and coal issues. "If you can build good relationships with these people, perhaps we could get Trump or at least his top administrators if he's elected to come to western Kentucky, see firsthand these concerns that we have and maybe it'll help us to advance those and be good for the region," he says.

Note: We'll speak with Bill Bartleman throughout the week for more on his experience at the RNC. Next week, we'll speak with a delegate from our region going to the Democratic National Convention.

Matt Markgraf joined the WKMS team as a student in January 2007. He's served in a variety of roles over the years: as News Director March 2016-September 2019 and previously as the New Media & Promotions Coordinator beginning in 2011. Prior to that, he was a graduate and undergraduate assistant. He is currently the host of the international music show Imported on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
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