- Associated Press - Thursday, July 21, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - In the waning hours of a contentious Republican National Convention, not everyone was sticking around for the headliner.

Giovanni Cicione was flying home to Rhode Island on Thursday, disheartened by what he saw in Cleveland this week.

The former head of the Rhode Island Republican Party was a delegate for U.S. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was booed Wednesday after declining to endorse nominee Donald Trump.

A Republican activist for 20 years in a heavily Democratic state, Cicione sat on the national platform committee and pushed unsuccessfully for a more inclusive party platform. The Barrington resident said he came to the convention in hopes he could have some influence to make the party better.

“I’m not sure anyone’s listening. We’ve got a real problem with minority voters right now. We’re losing them. We’ve done nothing to change course,” he said.

The state’s only other Cruz delegate, South Kingstown landscaper Rob Sullivan, also wanted to see more evidence that “we’re the party of ideas and the free market.” The 29-year-old is the youngest member of Rhode Island’s 19-person GOP delegation and thought more attention should be paid to issues that drive younger voters, such as marijuana and gay rights.

But he stayed for Trump’s speech to show unity against presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“We have to really prevent that woman from getting into the White House,” he said.

Most of the other delegates were Trump supporters going into the convention. The New York businessman trounced his rivals in the state’s April primary, picking up 12 delegates, while Ohio Gov. John Kasich got five and Cruz got two.

Cicione said he thought Cruz’s speech was bold and brave. He was troubled by what he heard from many Trump supporters.

“I think the sort of raw, nationalist fervor that I hear from Trump supporters is disconcerting to me,” he said.

More disconcerting, he said, was the discounting of the libertarian wing of the party.

“We’re missing an opportunity here to create a future for the GOP,” he said.

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