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Minnesota Republicans want to unite

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Minnesota's Republican national convention delegates hope the party can unite before the November election, but many are not certain.

"We want to come together," Mandy Heffron of Little Falls said, emphasizing "want," in a Tuesday telephone interview.

As a delegate elected to support former candidate Ted Cruz, however, she has questions about backing Donald Trump. "I am not sure where I am at with the whole thing."

Heffron, a national convention rookie, said "there is some danger" with a candidate like Trump, one of the least-liked GOP presidential nominees, that party activism will slow in the fall campaign.

On the other hand, delegate Jen Niska of Ramsey said, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's unfavorable standing among Republicans could attract more people to volunteer for Trump. "Even some of my Democrat friends are having a hard time with Hillary."

How the campaign will play out is an unanswerable question, former state House Minority Leader Marty Seifert of Marshall said. "It's tough to gauge right now."

How well Republicans come together after Trump takes the GOP reins -- and how Democrats do that after Clinton picks up the nomination next week -- will determine who wins in November. The two candidates have the lowest likeability ratings of major presidential hopefuls for many years, and Seifert said it will take time to sort that out.

"He is going to be the nominee, there is no doubt about it," Seifert said about Trump. "It is going to take time to heal. ... It all gets circled back to Hillary and how she is not that good a candidate."

Seifert and Niska are pledged to support Marco Rubio, who won the Minnesota caucuses.

"For a lot of Republicans, Donald Trump is a bitter pill to swallow," said Seifert, at his second national convention. "But Hillary is a cyanide pill. We will not take a cyanide pill."

Seifert said Trump may draw some people into the political process "and some of the old timers who do not like him may sit it out," Seifert said.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Keith Downey, attending his first national convention, said that Republicans already are moving toward Trump. "In the end, you support your nominee. ... Eventually, people will get behind him."

If a Republican cannot work for Trump, Downey said, "you can certainly find some candidate ... you are passionate about" elsewhere on the ballot.

Presidential races often drive up voter turnout at November elections, but Heffron does not expect a big drop off this year, even with less-than-beloved candidates. "You still need to get out there and vote" in other races, she said.

"You look at the attendance for caucuses," she said. "It was record breaking."

The March caucuses drew more than four times the usual number of Republicans in Morrison County, Heffron said. She is one of four Morrison County residents in Cleveland, and her mother, Joyce, is an alternate.

While some Minnesota media reported that the Minnesota delegation was dissed for giving Trump little support in the caucuses, Downey downplayed it.

As viewers watching the convention look head-on at the stage, Minnesota delegates are on the far left, at the back of the arena and off to the side. However, Downey said, delegates like it there because it is fun to be near media and Minnesotans have a good view. Other delegates say they can move around better than delegations down front.

As far as their hotel being far away, the state party chairman said some delegations are housed twice as far away.

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