Minn. delegates say Trump shows ‘strength’ after recent violence

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, July 19, 2016

By Patrick Condon and Ricardo Lopez

Minneapolis Star Tribune

CLEVELAND — Adam Gilbertson, an Iraq war veteran now traversing this heavily guarded city with Minnesota’s delegation to the Republican National Convention, said Monday that he got the same advice from multiple people when he told them he was headed here after a violent few weeks in the United States.

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“The overwhelming comment was, ‘stay safe,’ “ said Gilbertson, of Lakeville. “It’s really disheartening to hear that when you’re going to a political convention in America.”

The theme of Monday’s convention session was “Make America Safe Again,” which has risen as one of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s chief campaign messages especially after multiple recent instances of high-profile violence and instability both in the U.S. and abroad. Fatal police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge, a terrorist attack in France and an attempted military coup in Turkey have left many on edge as Republicans and then Democrats meet to anoint their nominees.

Minnesota Republicans, staying in a Holiday Inn that’s nonetheless under watch by a group of local police officers, hope Trump can leverage voters’ desire for law and order into ballot box mojo.

“We are in dire need in this country of a really strong leader, and I think Donald Trump can be that for us,” said Becky Hall, a delegate from Duluth. “A lot of Americans are very worried about our own security here, and I think they find comfort in seeing him as strong on national security.”

The opening night inside Quicken Loans Arena featured a speaker lineup who hit themes of domestic security and projecting strength abroad. Extolling Trump’s virtues were former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The vast majority of Americans today do not feel safe,” Giuliani said. “They fear for their children. They fear for themselves. They fear for our police officers who are being targeted.”

The campaign of Democrat Hillary Clinton has sought to portray Trump as too unpredictable and capricious to lead the U.S. in a violent and uncertain time. “Donald Trump’s temperament is a danger to national security,” read a Clinton campaign news release.

With support for Trump fairly low among Minnesota’s 74-member group of delegates and alternates, some openly questioned whether Trump is in a good position to lead the nation in a turbulent time.

“I honestly don’t know,” Gilbertson, who supported Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, said when asked what he thought Trump could do as president to curb the outbreaks of violence.