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Forum editorial: GOP's unity a sham

The goal of Republican unity at the national convention in Cleveland has been elusive. GOP leaders are putting on a good show of unity, but the facade is thin. Indications are happy talk will continue to dominate the proceedings, but unhappiness with presidential nominee Donald Trump and the tactics of his campaign team cannot be ignored. Moreover, the Trump convention can chalk up several "firsts" that the party would rather not talk about. Among them:

• For the first time in modern times, two former Republican presidents—George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush—declined to attend. Republicans dismiss the two, saying they are in a snit because another Bush, Jeb, was knocked out of the presidential race by Trump. Maybe so. But the situation is a symptom of party disunity.

• For the first time in recent memory, the two most recent Republican candidates for president—Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney—are not at the Republican convention. McCain's cool endorsement of Trump seems downright cold now. Romney has been a leader in the quixotic quest to deny Trump the nomination. Again, more indications that significant GOP leaders are not on the Cleveland unity bandwagon.

• And most startling of all, the Republican governor of the convention host state, Ohio's John Kasich, is not in Cleveland, having made it clear throughout the campaign that he will not compromise his values and standards to support Trump. The Trump campaign's response has been to belittle and insult the popular governor of a state Republicans need to win if they want to win in November. It's not a recipe for party unity.

The only factor that seems to unify Republicans is enmity for the Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. There is no surprise in that, but it's not enough to generate sufficient enthusiasm for Trump to win the general election. The party has to be more for Trump than against Clinton. As the last few elections have clearly demonstrated, Republicans need every committed Republican voting for their man; additionally they need major support from the vast unaligned voting population that determines the outcome of national elections. They have neither yet.

And if Cleveland is how Republicans define unity, they need a refresher in the dictionary definition.

Editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.

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