The “Never Trump” campaign met its end this week when Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination for president at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
But one of the movement’s most prominent leaders, delegate Kendal Unruh of Colorado, said she’d do it all again.
“I never went into this with a guaranteed outcome,” Unruh said. “I knew from day one it was a huge uphill battle.”
From the floor of the convention, Unruh watched as her first choice, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, was booed as he told the Republican faithful to “vote their conscience.” He refused to endorse Trump in his speech, later citing the nominee’s personal attacks on Cruz’s wife and father.
“That was so disturbing to me on the core level that this is my party,” Unruh said.
A school teacher from Castle Rock, Unruh was hopeful she and other anti-Trump delegates would be able to do exactly what Cruz suggested: “Vote their conscience,” meaning they could unbind from their commitment to Trump and support a different candidate. That didn’t happen.
To move forward, she said, the RNC needs to allow the delegates to vote as they see fit. As it is, she said, the party “stripped” delegates’ voices.
“That has to be undone if this party is to ever be the party that Reagan and conservatives have wanted it to be, and that is truly the party of the people,” she said.
The question for her now is whether to fight for a party she feels might be lost.
“You can either leave or you can work to transform it, because it's not the party that it used to be,” Unruh said. “It's not the party of Lincoln and Reagan. The criticism that we had that Donald Trump would fundamentally transform our party has happened, and some people might think that's great.”
She said the clash will make it difficult for some of the party’s foot soldiers to work for the controversial nominee -- including herself. Without a unified and excited base, she said, it will be difficult for the Republican nominee to defeat Hillary Clinton.