FORSYTH COUNTY -- The Republican National Convention started on Monday in Cleveland, Ohio, and two elected officials representing Forsyth County are taking part in the festivities.
“I’ve been personally excited to see how many people are supporting Trump,” said state Sen. Michael Williams, who represents District 27 and was one of the first officials in Georgia to support the presumptive Republican presidential candidate. “It’s just exciting and full on energy right now.”
Williams said on Tuesday there was an attempt to change party rules by Republicans against Trump.
“We had that small attempt for the rollcall to kind of throw off Donald Trump, but it was defeated pretty handily,” he said. “You had [delegations from] Colorado and Texas, who were actually just a few rows back from us, all chanting, ‘Rollcall vote, rollcall vote,’ and as soon as they started that, people started chanting, ‘Trump, Trump, Trump.’”
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, whose 9th Congressional District spans north Forsyth and northeast Georgia, said he was trying to focus on issues, such as balancing the Supreme Court, and that he was there to help the party.
“My role is to be supportive of our party ... and making sure we are moving forward with the conservative vision for America going into the fall elections,” he told The Gainesville Times.
Williams said he heard from big names like former presidential candidates Ben Carson and Rudy Giuliani but that his personal favorite was less well-known.
“Probably the most moving speaker wasn’t really a political powerhouse, but it was the mom of one of the soldiers that died in Benghazi,” he said of speaker Pat Smith. “She spoke for about 15 minutes, and it was very emotional. She was obviously hurt by the loss of her son, but even more hurt by how she felt like her country betrayed her, especially Hillary Clinton.”
Following her speech on Monday, many news outlets claimed Melania Trump had plagiarized portions of her address from a speech Michelle Obama made in 2008. Williams said he was impressed.
“I know she’s been getting beat up a little bit about [plagiarism], but I thought it was great. I spoke with my wife this morning, and she just thought so highly of Mrs. Trump as well,” he said. “I think the Democrats are just trying to make something out of nothing. When you talk about values and talk about your country and you talk about setting dreams and goals, you’re going to say some of the similar things, but I don’t think in a million years she plagiarized anything Michelle Obama said.”
Both Collins and Williams indicated that it is time for the party to unify behind Trump ahead of November’s election.
“At the end of the day,” Collins said, “not letting Hillary Clinton occupy the White House again, that is the overriding goal.”
Staff writer Joshua Silavent with The Gainesville Times contributed to this report.