- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

CINCINNATI (AP) - Ohio Republicans left the Cleveland convention Friday with mixed feelings about their party’s presidential nominee, while saying they will choose him over his Democratic foe.

The state delegation received a lot of attention this week because home-state Gov. John Kasich, who won Ohio’s GOP presidential primary, refused to endorse Donald Trump and steered clear of the Trump-led convention. Some delegates also have balked at supporting Trump.

Trump’s aggressive speech Thursday night raised hopes about his chances against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Hamilton County GOP chairman Alex Triantafilou thought Trump made a strong appeal by saying he would provide a voice for struggling Americans.

“That is the winning message for November,” Triantafilou said via Twitter. “We have the classic outsider and non-politician. I’ll take it.”

State Rep. Niraj Antani of Miamisburg said Trump’s speech should resonate with many Americans; now Antani wants to see “an actual specific policy plan.”

“Donald Trump’s speech showed he has an impressive grasp of the problems that Americans are concerned about,” said Antani, who was a first-time delegate at age 25.

He suggested Trump could get some ideas on governing from Kasich.

Outside the convention hall Thursday, Kasich spoke to the Ohio delegation, saying he was standing on principle. Antani noted that Kasich didn’t do as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz did. Cruz took a speaker spot at the convention but didn’t back Trump.

“I thought Kasich handled it very well,” Antani said. “He understood that if he’s not ready to endorse him, he shouldn’t be there speaking.”

Delegate Greg Hartmann, former Hamilton County commissioner, said the Trump camp misfired when his campaign adviser “poked our governor in the eye” with criticism at the convention’s beginning. But Hartmann said it’s important to focus now on building a winning campaign in swing state Ohio.

“We have to move forward and not be children about it,” Hartmann said.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, back in the Cincinnati area on Friday to lead a panel discussion at an addiction treatment center, said he thought Trump laid out “a pretty clear choice.” Portman said Trump addressed “the middle class squeeze” of flat wages and higher expenses he said he hears a lot about in Ohio as well as getting tougher on terrorism.

“He talked about the status quo not being acceptable,” said Portman, who supports Trump as nominee but kept his distance from him during most of the convention.

Delegate Sue Rodman of Cleveland Heights, a member of the state party central committee, said she gets the sense that most of the delegation is ready to support Trump.

Delegate Tracey Winbush, who got attention with the Nancy and Ronald Reagan slippers she wore on the convention floor, said even though she criticized Trump during the primary, she will advocate for him. A black woman from the Youngstown area and the state party’s treasurer, she hopes Trump can improve his low standing with black voters.

“They need to hear him,” she said, saying the businessman offers a new hope for economic equality and jobs instead of following Clinton’s familiar path.

“It’s better to take a risk (with Trump),” Winbush said.

Rodman turned 75 at the convention, but said she’s not thinking about having the first female president.

“No, I don’t need the first of this and the first of that,” Rodman said. “We need to get our country back on the right track, and the economy and our safety are most important for our children.”

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Follow Dan Sewell at https://www.twitter.com/dansewell

For some of his other recent stories: https://bigstory.ap.org/content/dan-sewell

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