AP NEWS

Vermont GOP delegates hit the ground in Cleveland

July 18, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Republicans are gathering in Ohio this week for the Republican National Convention, and many Vermont delegates are already there.

Nearly 50,000 people are expected to spend the next several days at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Over a dozen Vermont delegates and alternates will be there. Officials say most are in support of Trump. “I would suspect 98 to 99-percent of the people are all in agreement, and that everything will go very smoothly. There’s always people who disagree with the majority,” said Jay Shepard, the Republican National Committeeman for Vermont.

Vermont’s top Republican official, Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott, has said he won’t be attending the convention. Scott is actively campaigning for the Republican gubernatorial nomination and has said he will not be voting for Trump. Those at the convention will officially choose the presidential nominee, and many expect protests will take place.

“I’m hoping that the protests are gonna be respectful. I think it’s awesome that people are wanting to project their disapproval, but at the same time, the Democrats have their own convention,” said Alex von Stange, the Shelburne Republican Committee Chair.

Though many Republican officials remain undecided on whether to support Trump, some say he has a better chance at winning with Indiana Governor Mike Pence at his side. Trump’s announcement that Pence would be his running mate came just days before the convention. “Governor Pence is qualified to be President, and I think that’s the most important thing when you’re picking a running mate. He’s been in Congress, he has foreign affairs background, he’s run a very large state, he’s been very, very popular with the people in Indiana,” Shepard said.

At the convention, leaders will also adopt the official party platform, which spells out the party’s policy principles. Alex von Stange says the reports of this year’s platform have shown large disparities between party members, especially surrounding issues with the LGBT community. “I wish that we had the unity that we all dream of, but at the same time, this is unprecedented levels of disagreement, and I want to see a party platform moving more towards the future,” he said.

The convention begins Monday and ends Thursday, and Vermonters--along with the rest of the country-- are paying close attention.