On the first day of the Republican National Convention, it is clear the Grand Old Party is anything but unified. Polling shows since Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee, the GOP is fundamentally and irreparably divided, and the problem is worsening, not getting better as party members hoped.
“Between the recent polling and the number of Republican Senators, Congressman, and Party leaders that are skipping their party’s national convention in Cleveland, it is clear the GOP is more divided than ever,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Monday. “On the other hand, Democrats are uniting behind Hillary Clinton and are looking forward to our convention where we will nominate her for President of the United States.”
Wisconsin Republicans have given a broad spectrum of answers as to how they grapple with someone as bigoted and divisive as Donald Trump. For some they won’t support their presumptive nominee, for others like Ron Johnson they will support but won’t endorse, and then there are those like Paul Ryan who believe there is more good than bad with Donald Trump. With Trump serving as the new standard bearer of the Republican Party, it's clear many Wisconsin Republicans will, at best, hold their nose as they nominate Trump in Cleveland. Or will they?Don't forget what Republicans have said here in Wisconsin:
MICHAEL GREBE: One of the most prominent figures in conservative and Republican circles, Michael Grebe, has given up his seat at next month's GOP convention, saying he wants no part of nominating Donald Trump...He served as campaign chairman to Gov. Scott Walker's gubernatorial races and his unsuccessful presidential bid, and is a former chairman of the state GOP..."I declined to go to Cleveland and I gave up my delegate slot because I do not want to be part of a process which results in the nomination of Donald Trump," Grebe wrote in an email to the Journal Sentinel. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 7/1/16]
RON JOHNSON - "Let me tell you precisely what I’ve said. I intend to support the Republican nominee. That’s what I’ve said. I intend to support the Republican nominee," Johnson said on Big AM 1380's "The Mike Daly Show" when asked if he was concerned about backing Trump. Later, when asked if he was concerned about endorsing a "wild card," Johnson differentiated between supporting and endorsing a candidate. He noted that he purposefully says, "I intend to support...To me, support versus endorse are two totally different things," Johnson said. [Talking Points Memo, 5/16/16]
PAUL RYAN - ““I do not think a Muslim ban is in our country’s interest. It’s not reflective of our principles not just as a party but as a country,” Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, criticizing the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s proposal… pressed as he was walking away from the microphones if he stood by his support of Trump as the GOP presumptive nominee, Ryan ignored the question.” [CNN, 6/14/16]
SCOTT WALKER - "Delegates are and should be able to vote the way they see fit." Scott Walker on whether delegates should have to vote for Donald Trump [Politico, 6/21/16]
JIM STEINEKE - Even Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, who has called Trump “a liberal and a liar,” hedged in his opposition, but said Wednesday he does not currently support the presumptive nominee. [Wisconsin State Journal, 5/5/16]
REID RIBBLE - “Ribble…remains deeply opposed to Donald Trump while his party begins to rally around him. “It’s an unrecoverable relationship, let me put it that way,” Ribble says of his attitude toward the New York developer, a candidate he says lacks the temperament to be president.”
Rep. Reid Ribble [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 5/17/16]
And it seems Paul Ryan and Reince Priebusare having some difficulty selling the idea of party unity….
The Washington Post: A party that doesn’t recognize itself convenes in Cleveland
The Republican convention will hardly resolve the differences that Trump’s candidacy has revealed. They will continue to roil the party all the way through Election Day — and likely beyond.
But amid gloom about Republican prospects in November, Mr. Trump may have endangered the party in a more lasting way: by forging a coalition of white voters driven primarily by themes of hard-right nationalism and cultural identity.
After a marathon session of behind-the-scenes wrangling and technical votes, delegates to the Republican National Convention voted down changes to the party rules to unbind themselves at the convention by a margin seemingly large enough to avoid a floor showdown in Cleveland on Monday. Such a move was necessary to preserve even a hope of replacing Trump as the party’s nominee, and its failure marked the unification of pro-Donald Trump delegates and Republican National Committee loyalists.
In this cycle, the GOP convention is generating a whole different level of buzz. With Donald Trump scaring the knickers off the party establishment, many players are debating whether to show up in Cleveland at all. Those politicians, strategists, and fund-raisers who do skip the festivities will then have to figure out how best to spend what is typically one of the hottest weeks on the political calendar.
Bloomberg: Divided Republicans Ponder the After-Trump
Republicans meet in Cleveland on Monday to anoint their presidential nominee amid deep schisms: Never have so many of the party's prominent governors, senators, House members and, most conspicuously, former presidents and presidential candidates, avoided the quadrennial forum. But ideology is secondary.
Eau Claire Leader Telegram: GOP convention preview: United they stand?
After the unpredictable nature of the 2016 presidential campaign, no one quite knows what to expect at this week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland…While several established, big-name Republicans have promised to stay home because of their distaste for presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump as the party’s standard-bearer, others have suggested they will continue their efforts to deny Trump the nomination at the convention.
CLEVELAND – The city of Cleveland and the Cleveland Division of Police released the finalized list of protest groups on Wednesday for the Republican National Convention. The list includes a detailed schedule for the protest parades, public art displays and the speakers platform on Public Square.
Cincinnati Enquirer: For GOP convention, welcome to Ohio?
Joining Trump and the Republicans in Cleveland will be thousands of protesters – some opposing his candidacy and some supporting him… Activists worried about the possibilities for violence among protesters, citing scuffles at some Trump campaign rallies, and in police interactions with demonstrators.