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Sharply Differing Local Reactions to GOP Convention, Trump Speech

Matt D'Ambrosi

  The GOP convention has wrapped up in Cleveland, and it’s probably no surprise there are starkly different opinions about the republican nominee.  WAER News brings reaction from trump supporters and a history professor.

Cazenovia College Professor John Robert Greene says what struck him about the convention overall was how little control there was by the Trump campaign.  Too many unscripted moments, rookie errors, protests, plagiarism…

"If what they wanted to show was a party that was moving to the control of the average Joe, that's what they got," Greene said.  "But if they wanted to show a campaign that was ready for prime time, a campaign that had discipline, and a campaign that had a plan, that didn't happen at this convention."

Then, there was what Greene calls a unique moment in political history brought to us by former candidate Ted Cruz.

"It needs to be said as often as possible that what Ted Cruz did doesn't happen at these conventions," Greene said.  "When you are defeated, you either shut up and get out of the way or endorse the nominee.  That's all that's been done in the past.  For him to get up and specifically not endorse the candidate shows how shattered this party really is."

Credit Matt D'Ambrosi / WAER News
Josephine Thomas is on the GOP committee in Geddes.

Even though, Greene says, the visual of thousands of people chanting and waving signs on the floor of an arena may make it appear that the entire party is lockstep behind the nominee.  Trump supporters who gathered last night for a watch party certainly are.  Josephine Thomas is a Republican Party committee person in the town of Geddes.

"I thought his speech was tremendous.  It was focused, it was presidential.  I thought it was a great speech."

Michelle DeLong is from Eastwood.

"I loved everything he said, what he's going to do and how he's going to help America."

John Pelligrino is from Manlius.               

"I think he touched on everything he had to touch on. He's really reaching out to the anti-establishment that speaks for the working class, the blue collar crowd."


Cazenovia College History and Humanities Professor John Robert Greene doesn’t mince words when he says Donald Trump’s speech had nothing to do with GOP values or the party’s platform. 

Credit Matt D'Ambrosi / WAER News
Michelle DeLong is a Trump supporter from Eastwood.

  "This speech was a speech by an authoritarian politician who use the word 'I' so many times in the speech, it was impossible to count," Greene said.  '''I will fix this, I will take care of this.'  That's a sign of an authoritarian, some would say dictatorial mindset."

Greene also noted the lack of any “republican” signs and banners at the arena in Cleveland, and an abundance of the word “Trump.” 

"There was no 'yes we can' being chanted.  But 'yes you will' being chanted.  It was eerie, it was scary."

But that’s clearly not how supporters felt at a watch party last night.  Michelle DeLong of Eastwood is encouraged.

"I know he'll keep his promises, definitely the wall," DeLong said.  "I know he'll help the single mothers like me, help with school choice for our children.  I'm also happy that he'll take care of ISIS."

Hear the story from WAER's Scott Willis.

Josephine Thomas is a GOP party committee person in Geddes.

"We're suffering with job loss.  Syracuse at one time was known as a great manufacturing center with a good tax base," Thomas said.  "We don't have that now.  We rely on hospitals and universities.  I think he'll try to bring back some industry here."

Credit Matt D'Ambrosi / WAER News
A Donald Trump cardboard cutout joined the celebration.

John Pelligrino is from Manlius.

"When I grew up, this place was booming with business,"  Pelligrino said.  "Now, it's like a wasteland.  A lot of businesses have left."

"You think Donald Trump will be able to help?" asked a reporter.

"I'm hoping he can,"  Pelligrino said.  "He says he will."

The supporters say trump is everything a president should be and will unite the country.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at