The Iowa GOP held its state convention today, with key Republican office-holders signalling the party’s continuing shift toward its presumptive presidential nominee.
Senator Joni Ernst did not say Donald Trump’s name, but she addressed the “Never Trump” movement and told the crowd the country needs a Republican in the White House.
“I have heard a number of folks say: ‘I will not support this candidate.’ ‘I will not support that candidate.’ ‘Never this person.’ ‘Never that person,'” Ernst said. “But I tell you what, folks. We’ve got to come together, because you know what my motto is going to be this year? Never Hillary! Never!”
Governor Terry Branstad called Clinton — the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee — the “ultimate insider.”
“We need to unite,” Branstad said. “We need to support Donald Trump and his choice for vice president because he will make America great again.”
A majority of delegates at the GOP event in Des Moines were Ted Cruz supporters. Republican Congressman Steve King backed Cruz and during his remarks King directly mentioned the “division” within the GOP.
“I am working with the Trump campaign to put together as many pieces of our values and belief system as we can,” King said, generating applause, “and if we can get people around Donald Trump that reflect our values, that we can work with, I want to get to a place where in Cleveland I can stand up and say: ‘I’m confident that he will work with you and he’ll work with congress and that we can put our government back on the rails again.”
Senator Chuck Grassley earned a standing ovation from the crowd by promising he’ll continue to block President Obama’s nominee from filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court. Grassley did not mention Trump, but he told the crowd electing Clinton would ensure a “third term” for Obama policies.
“Maybe makes the difference about whether or not we’re going to continue to enjoy the constitutional democracy that you have,” Grassley said.
Iowa GOP chairman Jeff Kaufmann told reporters ‘bruises” within the party are healing.
“We’re never going to have 100 percent unity,” Kaufmann said. “We didn’t have unity for Ronald Reagan in 1980. That was a long, long process as well. We are a lot further ahead than I thought we would be at this point.”
According to Kaufmann, Republicans are coming around to the idea that Trump is “one heck of a lot better” than Clinton.
Sixty-eight-year-old Tom Hill of Fairfax is a retired union member who has attended 11 Iowa Democratic Party state conventions.
“I changed over my party to Republican because I liked what Trump had to say, because there’s some damn change needed and he’s going to give it,” Hill said.
Hill isn’t happy that so many Ted Cruz backers from Iowa have been elected as delegates to the Republican National Convention.
“They snow-stormed whole this thing all the way through,” Hill said. “…They didn’t give trump his fair share of delegates. They shafted him.”
However, many of those Cruz backers will not be able to vote for Cruz at the Repubkican National Convention. New Iowa GOP rules for 2016 spell out how the 30 delegates at the convention must vote, based on the outcome of the Iowa Caucuses. That means Cruz will get eight delegate votes from Iowa and Trump will get seven. Marco Rubio, who finished third in Iowa, will also get seven. Ben Carson, the fourth place finisher, will get three. Then Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and John Kasich will each get one delegate vote from Iowa.
The Iowa GOP convention lasted a little less than six hours, concluding at 2:48 p.m.
Iowa Democrats will hold their party’s state convention on June 18.