- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Though Texas Sen. Ted Cruz won Utah’s Republican presidential caucus in March, Utah’s 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland were awarded Tuesday night to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Phill Wright, the chairman of Utah’s delegation, made a symbolic announcement during a Tuesday night roll call at the convention that Utah’s delegates are going toward Cruz, who overwhelmingly swept the state.

But state GOP and national GOP rules dictated that Utah’s delegates went to Trump, the only Republican still in the race.

The symbolic announcement by Wright came minutes after Trump secured the GOP nomination, and was one last gesture by Utah’s Trump-resistant Republicans. Utah’s delegation also used its time at the microphone to offer an olive branch to Trump as state GOP chairman James Evans said Utah is “always Republican, now, today and forever.”

“In November, Donald J. Trump will get the highest percentage vote from the state of Utah,” Evans predicted.

Earlier in the day, Wright and other delegates said they hoped to begin unifying around Trump after they joined in angry and prolonged objections Monday to a vote on rules.

Wright told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Republicans want one of their own in the White House. He hopes they’ll unite behind Trump by the final day of the convention on Thursday.

Wright, along with Sen. Mike Lee, was among those on Monday joining anti-Trump delegates loudly protesting the adoption of rules that quashed waning efforts to deny the billionaire the nomination.

Wright, who chaired Cruz’s campaign in Utah, said he hopes Trump will bring Republicans together.

“We do not want Hillary Clinton. And I will do all I can to support our nominee to make sure that happens, as well as the delegates from the state of Utah,” Wright said.

Delegate David Clark, a former state House speaker, says he’s hoping a Tuesday night speech from House Speaker Paul Ryan will help Republicans coalesce.

Clark he was impressed with speeches Monday night from Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” actor Scott Baio of “Happy Days” and Melania Trump.

Melania Trump’s speech, a source of debate after two passages bore striking similarity to a 2008 Democratic convention address by Michelle Obama, received mixed reviews from Utah delegates.

Utah delegate Peter Greathouse, who was on the state’s Ted Cruz leadership team, said Tuesday that Melania Trump’s speech may have brought some unity and humanized Trump, making “the TV character of Donald Trump a real person,” but he wasn’t overly impressed.

“I think it alleviated some fears. But if it was plagiarized, we don’t need that either,” Greathouse said.

Utah delegate Aimee Winder Newton, a member of the Salt Lake County Council, said she had hoped that Mrs. Trump’s speech would help warm her up to Donald Trump, because she’s not a fan of his.

But Newton said the keynote address from the candidate’s wife didn’t help much.

“All I could see is, here’s the woman who’s 24 years younger than him, his third marriage, the fancy, wealthy looking clothing… She doesn’t relate with who I am as a person,” Newton said.

After Utah delegates joined Monday’s battle on the floor, one member of the state’s group told Utah newspapers that she was threatened by two Trump supporters when she went to the restroom. Delegate Kera Birkeland said the Trump supporters told her that Utah’s delegation should die and their police protection should be pulled.

“I told them it wasn’t about Trump. It was about allowing more opinions,” she told The Standard-Examiner of Ogden.

Birkeland said she did not report the comments to police, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

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