Counter-conventions raise question of RNC unity

By Jed Layton, Hinckley Institute Journalism Program

ST. PAUL, MINN.8212;The Republican National Convention hasn’t included any talk of a historic roll call. Although there have been no pleads for party unity. Some delegates at the Republican National Convention are concerned that a lack of unity may be costly in November.

Most candidates in contention during the Republican primary this spring have quietly backed away and asked their supporters to turn to Sen. John McCain.

However, on the other side of the Twin Cities, Texas Representative Ron Paul held a counter-convention in Minneapolis, bringing in nearly 10,000 Paul supporters from across the country to attend the meeting at the Target Center.

Kent Nowviskie, a West Virginia alternate delegate, was at both the Paul counter-convention and the RNC. He said about 200 other delegates and alternate delegates also attended the meeting.

“He is genuine and has no guile about him,” Nowviskie said. “His ideas are what all of this is supposed to be about.”

On the floor of the Xcel Energy Center, most delegates were disappointed in the way Paul held his counter-convention, especially when compared to other former candidates.

Former candidate Mitt Romney, a Utah favorite, urged the Utah delegation to back McCain in a speech earlier this week.

Carri Fox, an alternate delegate from Utah and student at BYU-Idaho, originally supported Romney, as did many other delegates from Utah. She said she was a little disappointed when Romney didn’t win the nomination, but was getting over it.

Fox is now supporting McCain because she said McCain’s vice-presidential pick of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin helped emotionally.

“She has many of the same political views as Romney does. She is similar on abortion and on the economy,” she said.

Indiana delegate Nancy Bennett said most of the candidates had done the right thing by dropping out.

“Those who ran before all have stepped in behind McCain,” Bennett said.

When asked about Paul, Bennett said, “I think he is a sore loser. He has some good ideas but now he is nothing but a distraction.”

Bill Poynter, a delegate from Arkansas, agreed. He said he had supported Mike Huckabee before, but switched for the sake of the party. Huckabee released his delegates to McCain.

Tennessee delegate Clyde Holmes said he doesn’t understand why anyone would “split away.”

“In this election process you say your piece and then support the winner,” Holmes said.

Still, delegates like Nowviskie defended their actions, saying they feel it is necessary to support alternative candidates like Paul to help the nation and the Republican Party.

“If anyone has been betrayed, it is the Republicans,” he said. “The current leaders have taken it in a direction it was never intended to go.”

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Editor’s Note8212;Jed Layton is reporting from the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis through the Hinckley Institute of Politics and Shantou University Political Journalism Program.

Associated Press

Although the support at the Republican National Convention was overwhelming many delegates feel the lack of unity in the party could cost them the election in November.