Vermont Republican Disheartened, May Not Attend GOP Convention

Apr 28, 2016

If you ask Donald Trump, the race for the Republican presidential nomination is over. After a sweep of five states in the most recent primary contests Tuesday, Trump proclaimed himself the presumptive GOP nominee, even if his rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich and their supporters would disagree.

But some Republicans are still working to keep Trump from picking up a majority of the delegates in Indiana next Tuesday, with the goal of keeping alive the prospect of a contested convention in Cleveland.

To get an opinion on what Vermont's Republican delegates think of that strategy and the prospect of a Trump presidential nomination, VPR spoke with Rutland State Sen. Kevin Mullin, a potential GOP delegate.

“Let's just say that [Trump] would definitely not be my first choice. I have some serious concerns,” says Sen. Mullin.

“Mr. Trump’s strategy seems to be just to go negative on everything and he hasn't demonstrated his ability to be a statesman and someone who will be able to negotiate properly with other countries, and exert a good foreign policy — and as far as that goes, a good domestic policy.”

Mullin says these concerns are part of why he wants to be a delegate at the Republican National Convention.

“But after Tuesday night, I'm not so sure that there is an alternative path. We're still trying to assess the numbers to see if there is a way to try to get to a brokered convention and have some sanity prevail,” he says.

On whether he would support Trump

Mullin says despite Trump’s wins in the primaries, the data he’s seen shows that Trump does not have a good chance of beating Hillary Clinton in November — and this concerns him:

“I think that's another four years of the Obama administration — which is what I believe will happen under Hillary Clinton administration — isn't good for this country either," he says.

Some Republicans are supporting a strategy in advance of Indiana’s primary where Ohio Gov. John Kasich is encouraging his supporters to back Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in effort to keep Trump from getting all the delegates in the Hoosier State. Ultimately, the goal of this plan would be to bring about the prospect of a contested convention.

Mullin isn’t convinced that would work.

“It could [work], but to be honest with you, I think that John Kasich has made a deal with someone who might even be a worse candidate than Donald Trump. And I would hate to see Ted Cruz as the ultimate nominee either, because I don't think he could win in November," he says.

Mullin says his candidate is John Kasich, but he’d support Paul Ryan also.  

“I'm pretty discouraged,” says Mullin. “I really was hopeful that this is going to be a year where Republicans were going to be strong across the country and try to bring us in a different direction. I'm not sure that that's going to be the ultimate result, I’m hopeful, but time will tell.”

On attending the Republican convention

Mullin says no one has been elected to the Republican convention yet, but he would base his decision on whether to attend or not on the outcome of the Indiana primary on Tuesday. 

He says if Trump wins outright in Indiana and it looks like he's going to be a first ballot nominee, he would not attend.

“I would give it to somebody else, the opportunity to go and attend the convention," he says.

On whether he’d vote for a Democrat   

Mullin says he thinks it looks like a Trump v. Clinton race.  

“So I think that we are going to be faced with a very tough choice," he says. "Two people who I think may not be best for the country, and I think everybody's going to have to do some soul searching in the end and try to figure out who would be best. I don't look forward to that choice.”

Update 11:54 a.m.  This story has been updated to clarify that Sen. Mullin has not yet been elected a GOP delegate. The selection process takes place May 21 at the Vermont state Republican convention and Mullin is a potential candidate.