Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina Republican Party officials are gearing up for the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week, and Chairman Robin Hayes said the selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Donald Trump's running mate will provide momentum for the party.
Hayes served in Congress with Pence from 2001 to 2008, and he called his former colleague "a very solid conservative."
"Mike Pence, by nature, is a bit quieter," Hayes said. "He's as solid as a rock. His faith and his family are critically important to him. That, to me, produced stability. It produces an anchor that is a good balance to, sometimes maybe, a little bit too much excitement."
The "excitement" Trump brings has alienated some Republicans, but Hayes said most in the party are behind their presumptive presidential nominee.
"Republicans are encouraged to take a stand, to stand up for what they believe in. They were heard very strongly. Now, we move on," he said. "There are some high-profile folks who’ve said, under no circumstances, will they get on board. That’s unfortunate. I think they’ve made mistakes there. By the same token, the large majority, the electoral majority to elect Donald Trump, is very much unified and going forward."
Hayes will lead a 300-person North Carolina delegation to the convention, including 72 delegates and 69 alternates. The state awards delegates proportionally based on candidates' results from the March primary, and he said the delegates will vote accordingly.
"The outcome has been determined. We’ll take that momentum, blend these voices together," he said.
Law enforcement, including the Secret Service, the FBI and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has done a good job to prepare security for the convention, Hayes said, but he's still concerned about potential violence during protests. He has urged delegation members to be extra careful during the week.
"Preparations have been extremely thorough with ... everything reasonable to prevent (violence), but at the same time, not stifle the right of people who have legitimate and honest protests," he said. "There will be a time and a place and a way for them to voice their concerns."