As Trump Takes The Stage, N.H.'s Delegation Remains Divided

Jul 21, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republican nominee Donald Trump will address his party’s convention in Cleveland tonight. New Hampshire delegates loyal to Donald Trump are looking forward to the speech. But plenty of other delegates will be looking away, or looking on from afar.

To hear Donald Trump delegate Steve Stepanek tell it, the Republican National Convention has done its job, and the matter is settled.

“We know we need Donald Trump as our next leader, and I think everybody understands this is what we need, this is where we go.”

But with the convention entering its final day other New Hampshire delegates aren’t acting convinced.

Former US Senator Gordon Humphrey, a Kasich delegate, split Cleveland in protest as soon as Trump was nominated. His fellow Kasich delegates, former Attorney general Tom Rath and former U.S. Senator John Sununu, headed home early as well.

So did Bill O’Brien, a former New Hampshire House Speaker and Cruz delegate.

Steve Duprey, the state’s Republican Committeeman was pulled from Cleveland by a funeral.

Bruce Berke, a Kasich alternate delegate, offered a less weighty reason for bolting before Trump speaks.

“It’s my son’s 21st birthday tomorrow and I’m going to go home and buy him his first legal beer.”

“It is what it is.”

Alan Glassman is chairman of the Belknap county GOP. He struggled when asked to describe the dynamic afoot within the GOP.

“I’ve never seen this, and if there is anyone who says the have seen this before they are lying. OK, let’s face, it they are lying because we haven’t had anything like this before. “

Glassman was speaking at a reception for NH delegates hosted by Ohio Governor John Kasich.

“Thanks for allowing me to be here for a few minutes It’s good to see you, and for the people in New Hampshire, I’ll be back.”

Some Trump supporters attended the Kasich reception, but some skipped it to protest Kasich’s failure to honor the promise all GOP candidates made to support their party’s nominee. Kasich’s activities in Cleveland, spurning the convention hall but and hobnobbing and politicking with delegates all over town has fueled speculation Kasich looking towards 2020.

Ted Cruz’s behavior in and outside the conventional hall where he was booed for not endorsing Trump raise the same question.

Cruz delegate Steve Goddu says he’ll vote for Trump and wants other Republicans to do the same. But Goddu admits part of him is already looking past November.

“Trump is 70 years old and he’s got lots of money. He might decide 4 years is enough, even if he does a wonderful job.”

Donald Trump’s first chance to do a wonderful job comes with tonight’s speech. That might help unite a state delegation that’s having a hard time embracing the candidate it chose to lead the party and country.