Meeting Ben Carson at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio was a major highlight for Dave Hamman, from Princeville, who attended the national convention for the first time this week.
“He’s a brilliant guy, intellectually and he’s very well mannered,” Hamman said. “For me, it was a privilege to be able to meet him. He has a track record of incredible achievements and he’s easy to talk to.”
Hamman said he was also privileged to say hello to former Florida Representative Allen West, 2012 Republican candidate Herman Cain, and current House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Sandi Combs, running for the Hawaii State House District 14, attended the convention, held July 18-21, for the first time and she said she was able to rub shoulders with a few political stars as well.
“For me the biggest thing was being able to participate in democracy and I know that sounds cheesy, but I’ve never felt more American in my life,” Combs said. “Being apart of that uniquely American process is really cool.”
Another highlight of the event was Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican presidential candidate nomination.
“Donald Trump did a great job last night, he covered all the points that are of great concern to most Americans — at least the working class,” Hamman said. “We feel very strong about him coming in and changing things for the better.”
Combs said, as a delegate, she landed VIP seating for the speech and she said it was very inspirational.
“He hit a lot of high points, but what I was left wanting was details, which might be part of his strategy,” Combs said. “How are you going to do those things? Do you know the pieces you have to put together to make all of that happen and can you share those with me?”
Hamman said he was pleased to hear Trump touch on law and order, the mounting concern with ISIS, and the acceptance of refugees into the country.
“Those issues are some of the very important ones, besides the economy and why people are struggling to make an income,” Hamman said. “It’s the idea that we’re going to be able to start turning things around and start making an income again.”
He said the fact that Trump is a businessman with a history of “getting things done.”
“He’s original – he doesn’t have a canned position and that’s what people like, they want someone who will say it like it is,” Hamman said. “We all know he’s got billions of dollars, but he’s a fighter and he respects those who work for him. That’s the difference and that’s why people relate to him so well.”
Hamman acknowledged Trump has made some “foolish comments” in the past, but attributed those words to a lack of advisement on the issues at the time and said when Trump is well informed on issues “he usually takes the right side of the coin.”
“He’s a business person with some skin at the table and many of these politicians, they haven’t even had jobs,” Hamman said. “He’s got over 10,000 employees and of course he knows about things like healthcare firsthand.”
Being a businessman that routinely relies on advisers and a team of people with specialized knowledge in specific areas is something that Hamman said he thinks is vitally important in the White House, specially when it comes to military operations.
“You look at Obama and how he dealt with the military – he doesn’t listen to all of his advisers,” Hamman said. “He (Trump) is going to bring in the best advisers from all over the place and sit in a boardroom and hash things out.”
Hamman said he was “prepared for and concerned about” the presence of protesters and the possibility of violence, and he did run into some protests during the three days.
He said security was “fantastic” though, and the protesters were funneled through certain parts of the city so they were able to exercise their freedom of speech, “but nothing got out of hand.”
“I heard some noise on the first day and they were marching and hollering and carrying signs with them,” Hamman said. “I saw snipers on the roof, and there were officers all over the place walking the streets in groups of five or so. They took control, but didn’t violate their freedom of speech.”
He said in front of the Westbro Baptist Church in Cleveland, for instance, where a few protesters had gathered, about 70 officers lined up “marine corps style with their chests out.”
“They weren’t aggressive, but they were just standing there strong and making their presence known,” Hamman said. “It was impressive.”
Overall, the atmosphere of the entire convention was very “upbeat” according to Hamman.
“Most people were elated that we finally have someone who is expressing what we want to hear and is actually promising to get out there and make it happen,” Hamman said.