Cleveland — Party unity remains a big issue as the Republican National Convention nears the halfway point in Cleveland, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan tried to emphasize that Tuesday morning in a talk with North Carolina's convention delegation.
"How many of you had in your mind, at the beginning of this campaign, perhaps another candidate?" Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, asked the crowd.
When a number of hands shot up showing a large contingent wasn't initially supportive of Donald Trump, Ryan, who himself was slow to embrace the presumptive presidential nominee, said simply, "Fine."
Then, he tried a sports analogy that quickly fell flat.
"OK, how many of you are for N.C. State primarily? How many support North Carolina?" he asked. "One of our teams from our state goes to the championship, we root for them, right?"
When that suggestion was greeted with a resounding "no," Ryan winced. "Come on, work with me here. Good grief," he said.
Mary Forrester, a Ted Cruz delegate from Gaston County, said she would support Trump, as will delegate Joyce Cotten of Pittsboro.
"We have differences of opinion. We fight for those differences," Forrester said of the division within the GOP that was displayed Monday during a rules fight on the convention floor.
"I think Donald Trump is the answer," Cotten said. "If people have reservations, I think he's going to be a good leader. He's a businessman, and at this time, in my mind, that's what we need."
"We are to the point where this is a binary choice," Ryan told the North Carolina delegation. "If you're not voting for the Republican, then you are helping the Democrat."
Larry Schug, a Cruz delegate from Zebulon, said he doesn't buy that argument.
"I'm not voting for Hillary Clinton," Schug said.
He said he just doesn't believe Trump is a conservative, so he's not ready to jump on the bandwagon.
"If the Republican Party, the establishment of the Republican Party, wants to force their ways down our throat, I can't stand for it," Schug said.
"We usually do the right thing after we've tried everything else," Forrester said of the GOP. "So, I feel like that we will come together."