DeVan Barbour IV was among the North Carolinians at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
He knows some people are playing up the party’s divisions: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz refused to endorse Donald Trump, his former rival for the presidential nomination, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, another former rival, was a no-show at the convention held in his home state.
But Barbour says he witnessed a party far more united than what he saw portrayed on television and in newspapers. “The unity in that convention hall was amazing, and it was not properly conveyed through the media,” he said after returning from Cleveland.
The convention was “not nearly as split or contentious” as some in the national media suggested, Barbour said.
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“I feel strongly coming out of the convention that the unity of our party and the momentum flowing out of Cleveland will absolutely show on election day throughout the nation,” he said.
Barbour, who was bound to Marco Rubio, welcomed the opportunity to attend his party’s national convention. “It was a great experience,” he said. “It was a blessing to be able to be a part of it.”
At the convention, Barbour said, he enjoyed “getting to talk with (delegates from other states) and learn more about their primary process and get input on how elections are going in their states.”
When not on the convention floor, Barbour said, delegates spent much of their time trading ideas for how to get the Republican nominee elected in November.
“Turn out, turn out, turn out,” Barbour said. “North Carolina is one of the top-watched states in the entire nation, and in order for Republicans to win in November, conservatives will have to go vote on election day.
“We have to do all we can to make sure our friends, family and neighbors go vote. We really have to push people to the polls, and then I know it will be a good day for conservatives.”
Barbour, son of Johnston County Commissioner DeVan Barbour III, said he was most surprised by the unity at the convention. “During the rules vote, most of the hooping and hollering you heard came from pockets of people in the rafters – most didn’t come from people on the floor,” he said.
Security at the convention also surprised him, Barbour said. “Security was amazing,” he said. “There cannot be enough gratitude conveyed to law enforcement on the ground in Cleveland. It was extremely surprising.”
Barbour said protestors were scant. “There was a lack of visible protestors,” he said. “If they showed protestors on TV – I’m sure there was a pocket somewhere in the city – I couldn’t tell you where they were.”
Overall, the narrative in Cleveland did not fit the narrative conveyed through national news outlets, Barbour said. “Controversy sells headlines,” he said. “ ‘Peaceful, united Republic Convention’? You’re not going to get much for that.”
The convention also taught Barbour how important North Carolina is to Republican success come November. “It was evident by no less than the people that came to see us each morning during breakfast,” he said, listing visitors like Wis. Gov. Scott Walker, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Eric and Laura Trump.
“It just shows the attention that North Carolina was given by top-level surrogates to Mr. Trump,” Barbour said. “It just goes to show how important North Carolina is.”
Abbie Bennett: 910-849-2827; @AbbieRBennett