- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Republican Party may have nominated Donald Trump, but some South Carolina delegates are discouraged by what they describe as enduring divisiveness and negativity at the Republican National Convention.

Without some quick healing in the confab’s closing days, they fear, the party that has been fractured by a brutal primary season may have a hard time winning the general election - or surviving.

“We are not going to win simply by demonizing Hillary, as much as she warrants derision,” state Sen. Tom Davis, a libertarian-leaning lawmaker, told The Associated Press from Cleveland. “We need to offer a positive message on what we are about, too.”

Davis spoke a day after impassioned floor speeches from the likes of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who on Tuesday night effectively put Hillary Clinton through a trial-by-delegates “for her performance and her character.”

As Christie, a former federal prosecutor, read out “charges” against Clinton, the audience responded with chants of “Guilty!” and “Lock her up!”

“Certainly Clinton is a prevaricator, with her principles always taking a backseat to ambition,” Davis said. “The ‘Lock her up!’ chants were over the top.”

That fervor, Davis said, shows that Trump has tapped into “a sort of deep-seated emotional rage.”

“People feel things are slipping away from them,” Davis added. “And they’re scared.”

Another delegation member, talk radio host Bill Pickle, expressed frustration at “name calling and childish behavior” among some of the speakers, both at the podium and in one-on-one interactions.

Pickle also said he’d had to walk away from vendors hawking materials using sexist slurs to describe Clinton.

“What happened to professionalism, manners and humanity in our politicians and citizens?” Pickle said. “As far as the hardware that is being circulated, unforgivable! I think it speaks to their intelligence and hate.”

As the convention moves toward its close this week, Davis - who last week was critical of a party platform heavy on policy positions favored by religious conservatives - said the GOP needs to somehow broaden its appeal or face possible extinction.

“We keep plowing the ground with 1950s social issues that completely turn off millennials,” Davis said, adding the party needs more outreach to minority and young voters. “We can still do this, but it’s going to take leadership and forward thinking.”

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the word is “be,” not “by,” in Davis’ first quote.

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Kinnard can be reached at https://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/

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