WEST BOUNTIFUL — It would have been nice to attend the Republican National Convention in person.
But Don Guymon, a convention delegate from West Bountiful who instead has watched events from home on TV, doesn’t need additional inspiration.
“I’m still energized because I realize what an important election this is,” he said. “I’m still energized and ready to go to work to get Donald Trump elected.”
As with the Democratic National Convention last week, when Joe Biden was formally nominated as that party’s presidential pick, the Republican convention this week to formalize the selection of Trump is largely a virtual affair. The aim is to prevent mobs of people mingling together and guard against the spread of COVID-19.
Guymon attended the 2008 GOP convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, to nominate John McCain, who ran that year against Barack Obama. One of the things he misses in taking part in the event live is the opportunity for chance encounters with GOP leaders, like his meeting with Jason Chaffetz 12 years ago. “Plus, you spend time with people who love politics as much as you do. You don’t get that on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
Even so, he’s committed, and he’s planning to help with phone banking or other volunteer efforts from Utah to aid the Trump cause in battleground states. And even if most delegates stayed home, a small contingent from each state traveled on Monday to Charlotte, North Carolina, the convention site, to cast the votes by proxy from their respective locales for the GOP presidential pick. The convention ends Thursday when Trump is to formally accept the nomination as the GOP presidential hopeful.
Utah Sen. Stuart Adams, a Layton Republican, was in Utah’s six-person contingent, and, aside from the social spacing and masks in use, he noted the live address from Trump to him and the others on hand in Charlotte. Trump expressed opposition to new taxes, support for police and chagrin with the violence accompanying protesting in some locales across the country over police brutality. Adams was impressed.
“His rhetoric is sometimes hard for all of us. But his performance?” Adams said. He singled out Trump’s tax cut initiative, approved in 2017, saying he never envisioned seeing such change occur.
“I look at the results and I think he’s done a great job,” Adams said. “It’s hard to build. President Trump, if you look at what he’s done over the years, he’s a builder.”
Guymon, continuing with the GOP battle cry, sees Trump as a defender of liberties, particularly religious liberties. He also cited his picks to fill vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court, an area where most GOPers seem to unite around the president.
‘MY OWN LITTLE BALLOON DROP’On the flip side, Zach Thomas, chairman of the Weber County Democratic Party, said he’s been hearing a lot of negativity out of the GOP convention. “It’s a very anti-Biden and anti-Democrat message whereas the Democratic convention was more issues-based and focused on everyday Americans,” he said.
Whatever the case, there were plenty of jabs at Trump last week from Democrats, and GOPers paying attention this week are liking what they’re hearing out of the convention.
Ryan Wilcox of Ogden, an alternate delegate watching via television, singled out Monday’s convention address by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, the sole Black GOPer in the Senate, as an antidote to some of the messaging from Democrats.
“His close, when he spoke about how his grandfather was forced out of school as a third grader to pick cotton yet lived to see his grandson become the first African-American to be elected to both the United States House and Senate, was so inspiring, and such a contrast to the messages of doom and despair coming from the left,” said Wilcox. He’s the GOP candidate for the District 7 seat in the Utah House, facing off against Democrat Grant Protzman.
Daniela Harding of Layton, also an alternate delegate and chairperson of the Davis County Republican Party, may try to attend the 2024 convention since this year’s version turned into a virtual event. Still, she’s getting fired up and has been messaging back and forth with other GOP friends while watching convention action on TV.
“Cheering on the Republican Party,” she said, and she’ll keep it up through Thursday, when Trump’s to accept the nomination. “I’m going to have my own little balloon drop in my living room on Thursday.”