NC GOP delegation arrives in Cleveland for Republican National Convention

CLEVELAND — As thunderstorms rolled across North Carolina from west to east late Saturday night, Republican delegates boarded buses for an overnight ride to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
One bus picked up delegates in Kinston, Greenville and Raleigh, while another gathered those in Greensboro, Statesville and Charlotte, each representing a notable cross section of the Old North State.North Carolina has the sixth largest delegation of all the states, sending more than 300 people. While primarily based on population, extra delegates are earned based on Republican representation across statewide elected positions. With a Republican governor, lieutenant governor, and super majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, North Carolina represents a strong Republican state and earned more delegates as a result.
The mood was festive, if not a bit sleepy, as the delegates wound through the hills of West Virginia early the next morning. Some news had already been made in Cleveland as select RNC committee members voted down a motion to declare delegates unbound to candidate pledges.
Unbinding delegates would have allowed them to vote according to their conscious, instead of according to the primary results in their respective states. Even the potential of such a move raised questions about a possible coup by the “#NeverTrump” faction to deny Donald Trump the nomination.
However, even hardcore supporters of Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) campaign for the Republican nomination among the N.C. delegation and guests were relieved to hear the unbound vote failed.
In their view, Cleveland is all about uniting in order to defeat former Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in November. At this late stage in the campaign cycle, some Tar Heel delegates thought unbinding delegates would create even more fractures after an already contentious primary season.
Instead, the N.C. delegation, along with others from across the country, arrived in Cleveland with a sense of cohesion and optimism for what’s to come.
The self-proclaimed rock ‘n’ roll capital of the world seems a fitting place for the nomination of consummate showman Donald Trump. Rocking and rolling it was, as Cleveland welcomed nearly 50,000 people for the convention over the weekend and Monday morning.
As street closures and security perimeters took effect Sunday, a heavy police presence was immediately noticeable. Secret Service, state troopers, Cleveland police, FBI, and other agencies posted on nearly every street corner scanned the crowds for possible danger while also doing their best to accommodate requests for directions from visitors.
Though security checkpoints and perimeters do create bottlenecks and confusion about access areas, logistics and security come off as very well planned and executed. Officers have been professional and patient with the throngs of media and activists as they set up shop for the week.
A welcome party commenced Sunday evening for convention goers on the North Harbor of Lake Erie, with performances from the Doobie Brothers, a smorgasbord of complementary food trucks, and an impressive fireworks display. The atmosphere among the crowd was friendly and enthusiastic, with people from different states making fast friends while waiting in line for food truck fare.
The Republican Party actually feels like a party here in Cleveland.
Alas, important business awaited delegates Monday, as the week’s first business session starts in the early afternoon to hold votes on the party platform and other items.
The N.C. delegation first had a breakfast event with Trump surrogates at a hotel ballroom just outside of the city. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and others addressed the delegation to laud Trump and attack Hillary Clinton in a last bit of campaigning before the nominating votes later in the week.
Each day at the convention has a theme, and Monday’s theme is “Make America Safe Again.”
The speakers list includes former generals, Benghazi survivors, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and even Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame.
Actor Scott Baio, Trump’s wife Melania, former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani, and a slew of congressmen and women are also scheduled to speak Monday.
With such an electric atmosphere around the convention itself, little attention is being paid by delegates to the possibility of disruptive protests throughout the week. Still, it is early in the schedule of events and law enforcement is prepared to stand guard while the Republican delegates work to nominate their 2016 presidential candidate.