[Audio] Western Ky. Delegate Recaps Wednesday RNC Speeches - Day Four
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz and Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado were among headliners last night at the Republican National Convention. Bill Bartleman is a delegate from McCracken County. Matt Markgraf spoke with him this morning for his take on the speeches and look ahead to tonight, when Donald Trump will formally accept the Republican nomination.
Ted Cruz's Speech
Texas Senator and former presidential candidate Ted Cruz isn't backing down after a speech last night (Wednesday) at the Republican National Convention for not endorsing GOP nominee Donald Trump. Thursday morning Cruz defended his position, saying he wouldn't support someone who attacked his family.
Bartleman describes the reaction from the Kentucky delegation. "I think the Kentucky delegates were disappointed, they were kind of upset by it. They were among those who booed during his speech and they joined with others chanting 'Trump, Trump' trying to get him to even mention Trump."
Bartleman says Cruz mentioned Trump by name once in the beginning and thought the speech would end in an endorsement, but instead told people to 'vote for their conscience.' While he didn't expect a 'ringing endorsement' he thought there would at least be some endorsement. He added the Texas delegation sitting in front of Kentucky appeared shocked by the speech. In a conversation with one of the delegates, Bartleman says he mentioned that Cruz said he'd support the Republican nominee during his campaign and said it was surprising he didn't do so in his speech.
He says Cruz otherwise gave a good speech, outlining the conservative values he addressed in his campaign. He added that for a while, however, it felt like the 'air was taken out of the room' with discussion of police shootings. Bartleman points out that as Cruz was finishing his speech and getting booed for not supporting Trump, Trump came out to sit with his family which drew some cheers. "Some of the cheers that were for Trump coming in might have been confused by some to be for Cruz. But if Trump had not come in I think the boos would have been a lot louder and a lot wilder than they were."
Cruz came in a close second in the Kentucky GOP Caucus in March, with 31 percent of the vote to Trump's 36 percent. Cruz picked up most of the counties in far western Kentucky, while Trump led in southern and eastern parts of the commonwealth.
Ralph Alvarado's Speech
Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado gave a speech during primetime, where he urged Hispanics to vote for Donald Trump. Alvarado outlined his rise as the son of immigrants who went through the legal process, worked to put him through college, where he became a physician and his election to state senate. He said people who come to the U.S. legally can 'live the American dream.' He also addressed viewers in Spanish.
Bartleman speculates what's next in Alvarado's political career. "I think he's going to be a surrogate for Trump. He may do some traveling around the country and some of the other southern states. I don't know that for a fact, but I assume that if he supports Trump as strongly as he appears that he'd be willing to make trips for him and build up the Spanish vote for him."
Alvarado is the first Hispanic person elected to the Kentucky General Assembly. From Winchester, he represents Senate District 28. Trump has not polled well with Hispanic voters for his comments about illegal immigration and building a wall along the border to Mexico. A Gallup poll from March shows 77% of Hispanic voters have an unfavorable opinion of the GOP nominee.
Bartleman says Trump needs to reach out to groups like Hispanic and Muslim voters. He says Alvarado will be an important person in Trump's campaign for helping in this way.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence
Pence gave a contrast between himself and Trump in his speech last night, Bartleman says, where he said Trump is more flamboyant and off-the-cuff, Pence is more the opposite with a better media relationship. He says his speech was well-received. As a conservative Republican and not an 'entrenched Republican,' he leans more towards the Tea Party Movement, Bartleman says. "Most people you talk to say there could not have been a better pick than Pence for vice president," he says.
Newt Gingrich also spoke in a night Bartleman says was packed and the mood was "electrifying." He says among the Kentucky delegation the seats were full with extra people (like Alvarado's family and Rep. Hal Rogers) and he ended up standing in the aisle.
Kentucky Coal is sponsoring an event tonight that members of the delegation will attend. The anticipation, he says, is that after three days of largely bashing Hillary Clinton most people would agree that Trump needs to talk more about his visions and plans as president. He says Trump needs to tell people who he is and how he's going to govern.
He says Cruz's speech might actually energize some people more to work harder. He says Cruz might not have the following he thought he had and that there might be some work to do to win over some of the Republicans who looked to Cruz for leadership. Bartleman says when Ronald Reagan lost the nomination to Gerald Ford, Reagan came back and was complementary of Ford and praised Ford. Reagan then came back four years later and won the election. He says Cruz should have followed that game plan.
Democrats meet next week in Philadelphia. Bartleman anticipates there will be plenty of bashing of the Republican ticket. After that convention, they will feel energized much like the Republicans will after this week's convention. He says by late August and September, people will begin to really focus on the campaigns and that's when the race will be decided.
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.