Last night at the Republican National Convention, delegates nominated Donald Trump as the Republican nominee. Bill Bartleman is a delegate from McCracken County. Matt Markgraf spoke with him this morning about the tone of the convention, the Kentucky delegation, the speech by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and looking ahead to tonight's speech by Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado.
Recap from Tuesday
In a roll-call vote, delegates voted for Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee. Bartleman says the process was slow, taking time to roll-call 50 states plus several territories. He says some people thought there would be protest, or that some would make political speeches or change their votes by reading a different candidate, but that didn't happen. He says Kentucky's delegation was calm and that Governor Matt Bevin did a good job promoting Kentucky's manufacturing industry. "We got our five seconds in the spotlight," he says.
The party is generally unifying under a distaste of of Hillary Clinton. Bartleman says he's seeing primarily an anti-Hillary message. "I think that's the rallying call for the time being. You can get more people to vote for trump because they don't want Hillary. Trump hasn't put himself out there yet exactly what he stands for other than he's anti-Hillary."
Bartleman says Trump will need to do a good job Thursday night explaining why voters should choose him over his Democratic rival. He says while Trump's family has spoken about compassion, values and setting goals, Trump will need to outline his qualities as president should he get the nomination. It needs to be a mix of both anti-Hillary and pro-Trump messaging Thursday, he says.
Trump will also need to reach out to minority groups who are in this country legally, Bartleman says. "The Kentucky delegation had a meeting this morning, we had a speaker this morning who talked about immigration. And said there are as many as 10 to 12 million Muslims who live in the united states, and that's obviously a pretty big political group." He adds that a good percentage of voting Muslims are under the age of 35 and are politically active. He says he hopes Trump tries to reach out to those groups.
The theme tonight is “Make America First Again,” including a speech by Kentucky State Senator Ralph Alvarado, the first Hispanic person elected to a state office in the commonwealth. Bartleman says Alvarado will talk about his parents coming over as legal immigrants and his rise in the medical profession and to state office.
McConnell & Paul
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell got somewhat of a lukewarm reception as he took the stage Tuesday night. Bartleman says it was hard to determine this, but adds that before McConnell came on there was a video message from Trump, which got a rousing ovation. "It was a hard act to follow," he says. McConnell's speech primarily focused on anti-Hillary messaging and issues with the Obama administration. McConnell said that four years of Hillary Clinton would be an extension of Obama's presidency. He said Trump would sign bills that included elimination to regulations regarding the environment and coal industry.
Rand Paul is one of the prominent Republican party members absent from the convention this week. Instead, he held a series of town hall meetings in western Kentucky today. Bartleman says Paul is running a different kind of race than Trump. While he's sure Paul will vote for Trump, "One thing that's always impressed me about Rand Paul is that he was same as a senator as he was as a candidate" criticizing and going after the same issues," he says. He speculates if Paul came out as an advocate for Trump that it might go against some of the issues addressed his own campaign. He said it's probably best if Paul stay home and "stick to his guns" then be a part of the media attention at the convention.
Bartleman attributes some of the dissatisfaction with Trump within the Republican party has been hyped by the media. He says media competition blows this out of proportion. From his perspective, the party is not as divided as people thought, "We never get to vote for the best person for president, we get to vote for the people who are running for president." He adds there's feelings on both sides that there could have been better candidates, but says those aren't who put themselves on the line to be elected.
Comparison to a Kentucky Governor
Trump will be a different kind of president, Bartleman says, someone who might "shake things up." He likens Trump to Democratic Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown (1979-1983) “He wasn't a political establishment, he wasn't a democratic establishment. he was a businessman that came in and ran for governor. and a lot of people wondered what kind of governor he would be. but he put good people around him and was a good governor. and i think the same thing could happen at the federal level.” Bartleman credits Trump's business background, that he's not politically entrenched and doesn't worry about being politically correct. He anticipates Trump will surround himself with good people, and names running-mate Indiana Governor Mike Pence as an example.
Candidate of Change?
Bartleman says people who want change tend to be more adamant in in wanting change. He says people supporting Hillary Clinton are those who want more of the same. "When it comes right down to it, Trump has a good chance to get support from all sides." He says because Trump isn't an entrenched Republican, he can attract Democrats to vote for him in November who feel they want change.
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.