- Associated Press - Friday, July 22, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Seventy-one Pennsylvania delegates, plus alternates, spent the week in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Republican National Convention. The following is their take on Donald Trump, his nomination acceptance speech and other events of the week:


Joe Scarnati, a Jefferson County resident and the top Republican in the state Senate, said he viewed Trump’s acceptance speech and the ones that came before it Thursday night as packaged to appeal to a narrow group of undecided voters who will decide the election after they make up their minds.

“I think the speeches last night, including (Trump’s), were trying to hit on certain issues, social issues,” said Scarnati, who had initially backed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and then Ohio Gov. John Kasich before they dropped out of the primary race. “His daughter was very heavy on the social issues, and it’s starting to look more like a presidential address and presidential remarks in that regard. I definitely saw a change, I think for the good.”

Scarnati said Trump was less inflammatory at the convention, and lacked the social conservatism of previous convention speeches.

“I think that the base will tolerate some of that because of his outspokenness on other issues they care about,” Scarnati said.


Justin DePlato, a Pittsburgh-area delegate who supported Trump and a political science professor at Robert Morris University, said Trump’s speech was effective. The strategy, he said, is to appeal to moderate, blue-collar Democrats, rather than just preaching to the Republican base, and that included talking about helping people who are struggling, inner-city residents and single mothers, fighting bad trade deals and ending stupid wars.

“Overall, Trump harangued a bit much, but we must remember America isn’t too cheerful these days, so the tone and topics were very appropriate,” DePlato said.

DePlato said he thinks the convention will spark a united Republican Party, but he was unsure the general electorate will be swayed enough for Trump to win.

“He has a lot of work to do registering new voters and reaching out to moderate Democrats if he thinks he can win,” DePlato said.


Doug Brubaker, a delegate from Lancaster County, cast his vote for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, making him the only one of 71 Pennsylvania delegates not to vote for Trump.

Brubaker said Trump gave a wonderful speech, but he remains wary that Trump is more populist than conservative. If the election were held today, he would cast a write-in ballot for Cruz, he said. Trump is, however, doing things that Brubaker likes - for instance, picking Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate.

“If he continues to do things like that, he may have my vote,” Brubaker said. “But as of now, that’s not the case.”

Brubaker also was critical of the convention crowd’s reaction to Cruz’ speech Wednesday night. Cruz could have handled the speech better - he went on for too long, Brubaker said - but Brubaker didn’t fault Cruz for not endorsing Trump.

“He made his mistakes with it, so be it,” Brubaker said. “I thought the reaction was absolutely reprehensible and it’s embarrassing to me as a Republican and the larger Republican Party, and to me it was the epitome of being a sore winner.”


Elizabeth Preate Havey, a lawyer and a Philadelphia-area delegate, said she is willing to vote for Trump after this week. She said she became convinced while listening to House Speaker Paul Ryan address Tuesday’s Pennsylvania delegation breakfast. She also said she thought Trump handled himself well during the speech and acted presidential.

She rejected criticism that Trump’s subject matter was “dark.”

“We’re living in scary times,” Havey said. “I don’t ever remember living in a time when I felt nervous about my security.”

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