SALT LAKE CITY — Gov. Gary Herbert, one of the state's 40 delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that begins Monday, isn't sure what to expect from his party's presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.
"The Republican Party needs to find ways to come together," Herbert told the Deseret News, especially at a time when dissension and terror is spilling into the streets with a string of deadly attacks here and abroad.
What Republicans need to do, he said, is "find ways as a country we can help each other and support each other and understand that compromise is not a dirty word. We ought to find ways to solve people's problems."
But the governor said he's not sure Trump is up to the task.
"I think he has the talent to do it. I guess time will tell whether he will do it, or can do it," Herbert said. "He wrote the book, 'The Art of the Deal,' he knows how to bring people together and negotiate."
There is a long pause when the governor is asked whether the four-day convention can boost Trump's support in Utah, a reliably Republican state that's been reluctant to back the billionaire businessman and reality TV star.
"Well," Herbert finally says, "I don't think he's going to go any lower."
Like many Republicans in Utah, the governor hasn't decided whether he'll vote for Trump in November. He's withholding an endorsement until he can meet with Trump personally, something expected to happen in Cleveland.
Longtime Utah pollster Dan Jones said Utahns need to see a different side of Trump than the often bombastic candidate who makes sweeping statements against Muslims and other minorities, as well as on other issues.
"He's got to give it a try. He's got to start. He's got to quit being divisive," Jones said, and start telling voters in Utah and around the country "what he's going to do in a calm, united manner."
Earlier this year, Jones' polling found that Utah would reject Trump and vote for a Democratic candidate for president for the first time since 1964. Since then, Trump has overtaken his Democratic opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But that lead slipped in late June, when just over a third of Utahns, 36 percent, said they'd vote for Trump and 27 percent, Clinton, in a poll conducted by Dan Jones & Associates for UtahPolicy.com.
Chuck Todd, NBC News political director and moderator of "Meet the Press," said the network has moved Utah to "Lean Republican," meaning the state is considered a competitive battleground in the presidential race.
Still, Todd said it's more likely Utah Republicans unhappy with Trump will turn to a third party candidate like Libertarian Gary Johnson than Clinton.
"I would still be stunned, shocked, pick your adjective, if Hillary Clinton actually carried the state," Todd said. He said Johnson could have one of his strongest showings in Utah, just as Ross Perot did in 1992.
That year, the independent presidential candidate came in second in Utah, behind Republican President George H.W. Bush and ahead of Democrat Bill Clinton, who won the White House.
"It wouldn't shock me if that's how you saw some votes go" in Utah this election, Todd said. "But I've got to think there's enough Republican base support to get Trump over the top."
He said Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate should help him with Utah voters, thanks to his "Boy Scout image" and strong credentials with social and religious conservatives.
"I actually think if Utah is as competitive in the fall as it looks today, Trump won't go to the state, and he shouldn't," Todd said. But sending Pence in his place "could actually help fix some of the problems Trump has been experiencing."
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, helped lead the last-ditch fight to stop Trump's nomination in Cleveland last week, trying to find a way to allow delegates to vote their conscience rather than be bound by his wins in primaries and caucuses around the country.
However, their effort stalled in the rules committee headed up by former Utah Congresswoman Enid Mickelsen. Lee, a close friend of the winner of Utah's GOP presidential preference caucus, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, also has not endorsed Trump.
Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka said that battle could be brought to the convention floor. No matter what happens in Cleveland, though, she said she's not voting for Trump at the convention — or when she goes to the polls in November.
"Let's put it this way. I'm not going to vote for him — anytime," Ruzicka said, pledging to write in some other candidate in the general election. "Trump is not somebody who meets the criteria of a moral person, an honest person."
Former Utah GOP Chairman Stan Lockhart, who pushed a "Stop Trump" delegate slate at the state party convention in April, said he wants to give his party's pick "one more chance" in Cleveland.
Lockhart, who's going to the convention with his daughter, Hannah, a Utah alternate delegate, said he'd like Trump "to represent what our party stands for. So far, that's not him. He's appealing to the disaffected, to those who have lost all hope."
What Lockhart said he has to see from Trump is "more civil discussions of the issues and how to solve the issues. I want less attacking of people and communities. We need to be focused more on solutions than on getting headlines."
The head of the Utah GOP's Elephant Club for top donors to the party, Lew Cramer, said he's also hoping Trump can tone down his rhetoric at the convention and ensure Republicans are able to defeat Clinton.
"I'm frustrated as a Republican because of the lost opportunity," Cramer said. In any other election year, the former secretary of state investigated by the FBI and Congress would have been an easy target for the GOP.
Now, Cramer said, the party is pinning its hopes on a candidate who may not be able to beat her. The convention, though, is an opportunity for the party to right itself if Trump can deliver, he said.
"I'm praying that he can. It's not that hard to do," Cramer said. "I know there are some things you can say and ways you can act so that you're a statesman, not a politician."
Don Peay, the head of Utahns for Trump, said that's what the world will see this week.
"I think in the primaries, there's a lot of personality stuff. But when people actually vote for the presidents, they're going to look at who's best on national security, jobs and the economy, uniting the country and stopping the violence," Peay said.
At the convention, Trump is "going to be a strong leader. He's going to articulate what he's going to do for the country," Peay said. Speakers announced range from Trump's adult children to survivors of the attack on a U.S. compound in Benghazi.
While House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., is set to address the convention, the party's past two nominees, Mitt Romney and Arizona Sen. John McCain, aren't going. Nor are the two living GOP presidents, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.
In Utah, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox is joining Herbert as a delegate. But Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, gave up being a delegate and will be campaigning in Utah this week. Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart have also chosen to skip the convention.
Staying away from Cleveland is a good move for Utah Republicans on the ballot, said Jeremy Pope, co-director of Brigham Young University's Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy.
They must "avoid being tarred with the sideshow that is Donald Trump," Pope said, predicting an ambivalent response at best to the candidate's performance at the convention.
"I think people will be tuning in expecting something like Donald Trump's TV show, that he'll be entertaining like he was on 'The Apprentice,'" Pope said.
He believes Utah could be headed for one of the lowest-ever voter turnouts.
Jason Perry, head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said he believes voters are looking for a candidate to put their minds at ease amid the violence happening around the world and at home.
"There is uncertainty and fear not just in political circles right now, but in the country generally," Perry said. "What a presidential candidate cannot do right now is add fire to the flames."
There are security concerns surrounding the convention, and law enforcement officers from around the country are coming to provide assistance, including 27 Utah Highway Patrol troopers.
The troopers are part of a public protection unit first used in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and brought back two years ago. One of their recent deployments may have been a dress rehearsal for Cleveland.
The unit was sent to a Trump campaign rally in downtown Salt Lake City held just before the March 22 presidential preference caucus where thousands of protestors and supporters clashed.
UHP Major Jess Anderson said the Utah troopers are expected to patrol areas outside of the security perimeter around the Quicken Loans Arena in their regular uniform of brown shirts, tan pants and beehive patches but that could change.
"If things get a little bit rowdy or to the point we have to protect ourselves and others, we have protective equipment," Anderson said. "I anticipate we could very well see some sort of protestors who have a different view than Donald Trump."
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