CINCINNATI (AP) — So much for post-convention unity for Ohio Republicans.
Since leaving Cleveland as the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump has stoked his war of words with Ohio’s popular Republican governor, drawn indirect policy criticism from a former GOP president visiting Ohio, driven a former Republican state official to denounce him, and alienated some Ohio parents of slain soldiers with his comments about a Muslim Gold Star family.
It’s been frustrating for some who want Democrat Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
“We’re letting ourselves get distracted by sideshows,” said Greg Hartmann, a former Hamilton County commissioner who was a delegate for Gov. John Kasich. “Being distracted in any business, political or otherwise, is an issue.”
Hartmann added there still are three months left in a pivotal state that polls have indicated is close.
“We’re only in the first inning,” he said.
A summary of what’s been happening in the two weeks since Trump left in Ohio as the official nominee:
FEUDING WITH KASICH
Stung by Gov. John Kasich’s refusal not only to endorse him but to even take part in the Republican National Convention, Trump has voiced warnings of political payback for Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who spoke at the convention but wouldn’t endorse the businessman.
Trump talked about having a super PAC to oppose Kasich and Cruz on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
The second-term governor has responded subtly, posting messages on Twitter about “honor and respect” for Gold Star families and saying, “Republicans are lucky to have” House Speaker Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, and Sens. John McCain, of Arizona, and Kelly Ayotte, of New Hampshire, who have also drawn Trump’s ire. Trump on Friday endorsed all three in a conciliatory move.
Former President George W. Bush raised eyebrows during a closed Cincinnati fundraiser on Tuesday with an indirect commentary on Trump policies, saying they could lead to “isolationism,” ”nativism,” and “protectionism.”
People there said Bush didn’t mention Trump by name but clearly was referring to such positions such as curbing Muslim immigration and reconsidering military alliances.
Bush was in the state, which he carried twice, to support Sen. Rob Portman. While Portman has endorsed Trump, he has kept some distance when Trump’s been in the state.
The Ohio Republican Party says it is trying to help Trump win. But Trump’s name was conspicuous by its absence in a recent email appeal from chairman Matt Borges that said donations would benefit Portman and other Republicans.
Asked about the omission, party spokeswoman Brittany Warner said there was no significance and provided other recent emails that mention Trump.
NO CASE FOR TRUMP
Former state Attorney General Betty Montgomery blasted Trump on Wednesday, telling The Columbus Dispatch she couldn’t vote for him.
“I’m embarrassed. I’m ashamed,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t see him representing America and American values.”
Two key Republican legislators, Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger, asserted their support of Trump.
GOLD STAR FALLOUT
Trump’s criticism of the parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, killed in Iraq, upset some Ohio Gold Star parents.
“I think the comments are insensitive. I think the comments are insulting,” said Adolfo Olivas, a former Republican mayor of Hamilton, Ohio, whose son Nicholas was killed on patrol in Afghanistan in 2012. He said criticizing the parents “is despicable.”
The flap came as families of the Ohio-based Lima Company Marines were marking the grim anniversary of the Aug. 3, 2005, explosion in Iraq that killed 15 people, including David Kreuter, of Cincinnati.
“My feeling is that if you haven’t been there, you have no right to comment or criticize,” said his father, Ken Kreuter. “The parent of a military casualty has every right to express whatever feelings they have.”
Keith Maupin, whose son Matt Maupin was killed after his 2004 capture in Iraq, said he felt the Khans should have talked about veterans and Gold Star families in general “instead of hammering on Trump.” He met Trump at an Ohio rally this year and was reassured by their exchange.
“I certainly don’t like what the Democrats are saying and doing,” Maupin said.
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