WASHINGTON – It took less than a minute, but Arizona’s delegation to the Republican National Convention cast all 57 of its votes Monday for President Donald Trump, part of a suspense-free nomination that kicked off the four-day convention.
Trump got all 2,550 votes, even though only a fraction of that many delegates were actually in the hall in Charlotte, North Carolina. Like the Democratic National Convention last week, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the GOP event this week to stage a nontraditional convention.
But even though they could not be there in person, Arizona delegates expressed enthusiasm Monday for their candidate.
“He took the time to come to Arizona to show that he cared for our state,” said Alberto Gutier, a delegate and sergeant-at-arms for the Arizona Republican Party who was watching the events from home Monday.
The outcome was hardly a surprise: Arizona was one of a number that opted against a Republican presidential primary this year, leaving Trump as the only candidate.
Most delegates focused their comments on law and order, economic issues and, for Arizona delegation Chairman Michael Ward, “miles and miles and miles of big, beautiful wall.”
It took a little more than an hour and a half Monday for the actual roll call of the states that formally nominated Trump, who followed with a speech
that went on for almost an hour on everything from election security to COVID-19 to judicial appointments.
While it’s not typical for a nominee to appear before the last day of a convention
to deliver an acceptance speech, this is not a typical convention. While it is not almost-entirely virtual like the Democratic convention, it is stripped down with few of the trappings of a normal convention.
Not only did Trump speak Monday, but he is expected to speak every day of the convention leading up to an acceptance speech on Thursday night, the final night of the convention.
In addition to appearances this week by party leaders and GOP elected officials, the convention has scheduled hours of speeches every night from supporters around the country. Those include appearances by a handful of Arizonans.
Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer – whose president, Jonathan Nez, was a featured speaker at the DNC last week – will speak Tuesday as will “Angel Mom” Mary Ann Mendoza. Her son, a Mesa Police officer, was killed in 2014 by a drunken driver who turned out to have been in the country illegally.
On Thursday, the convention is scheduled to hear from Marsha and Carl Mueller of Prescott, whose daughter Kayla, a humanitarian worker in the Middle East, was kidnapped and held hostage in Syria by the Islamic State before being killed in 2015.
Even though she is not at the convention, delegate Shirley Dye said she is looking forward to a second term for Trump. Dye, the assistant secretary for the Arizona Republican Party, said Trump has delivered on promises from his first campaign to get tough on illegal immigration.
“The big issue is protecting us against the direct trafficking and sex trafficking,” Dye said. “I’m not against the people themselves, but against the fact that they end up getting on welfare.”
Gutier, an immigrant from Cuba who became a U.S. citizen in 1966, said that for him the issue is not the immigrants coming across the border, but the drugs and other substances that may come through. He believes this is why maintaining a secure border is crucial.
“I am a supporter of DACA,” Gutier said of the Obama-era program that defers deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. “I think that the president will fulfill his promise of helping those young people in DACA.”
But Gutier, like many who were at the convention, sees a range of achievements by the Trump administration, on the economy, the military, law enforcement and helping retirees.
“If the economy is booming there’s more jobs. If there’s more jobs people are hiring, people are doing things,” he said.