Pence appeals for GOP unity after anti-Trump delegate uproar

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Apparently sensing a need to quell any further attempts by anti-Trump forces to sidetrack the Republican National Convention, the Trump campaign turned Tuesday to Mike Pence to deliver an impromptu call for party unity, telling Republicans, “The time has come for us to come together … Let’s get to work.”

The Indiana governor showed up as a surprise guest for a meeting of the American Conservative Union at a restaurant in downtown Cleveland. He delivered impassioned remarks, and closed with a ringing endorsement of his running mate.

“He loves this country. He believes in the American people and their boundless potential. He is unintimidated by the world but he is in awe of the people of this country,” he said.

Pence said if they all come together to work for it, come Inauguration Day, “Donald Trump will raise his hand, become the 45th president of the United States of America, and he and we will make America great again.”

The remarks were a clear attempt to get any remaining hold-outs on board with Trump’s nomination, a day after an uproar on the convention floor by anti-Trump delegates who tried to force a roll-call vote on rules that blocked their bid to free delegates committed to the billionaire businessman.

Both Trump and Pence are set to be formally nominated by Tuesday evening, to be followed by a set of speeches from senior establishment Republicans – a chance for party leaders to give a clear signal of party unity after the fractious primary.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are set to speak, as are former Trump rivals – and now-allies – Ben Carson and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

After their crushing defeat on the floor of the Republican convention Monday, some anti-Trump delegates seemed to be coming around to the reality that Trump’s nomination is all but inevitable.

“There’s talk about abstentions and walkouts but I imagine those are symbolic -- this was the last best effort to stop it,” Peter Lee, a D.C. delegate, told Monday night. “I’ll listen to people coming up with alternatives, but am not optimistic.”

D.C.’s was one of a number of delegations that called for a formal roll call vote Monday on a controversial rules package, that anti-Trump delegates wanted to overturn in order to allow a free vote by delegates for the nominee. The uprising was quashed by Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., who was presiding over the convention. Womack called for a voice vote and declared the rules approved.

For many anti-Trump delegates, it was their last card to play.

Lee described the mood among fellow delegates as “resignation but not necessarily begrudging support.”

Others said that while they accepted defeat, they still intended to make a statement for the rest of the convention.

“I think the opinion of people who think like I do is we know he’s going to be nominated, but we think a statement needs to be made,” Norm Frink, an alternate delegate for Oregon who sported a “Never Trump” T-shirt, told

Rick Wilson, a GOP strategist and a key voice in the anti-Trump movement, said they were under no illusions on how hard this would be.

"We’re in a position right now, the folks who opposed Donald Trump’s nomination played our cards,” he said. “Now he’s going to be the nominee short of a meteorite hitting him in the face, and we recognize that.”

He said the mood among delegates is of disappointment and a sense that defeat is around the corner for the GOP.

“They’re disappointed Trump is the nominee for a very simple reason: all the scenarios that play out, few lead to a Donald Trump victory,” he said. "If he’s not going to win why are we putting our party in this agony? Why are we putting our party through this absolute s---show of a campaign? That’s on the minds of a lot of people in Cleveland.”’s Adam Shaw contributed to this report.