Tim Nashif is the kind of Republican who might have a few problems with Donald Trump.
The CEO of the Portland-based marketing firm Gateway Communications is a co-founder of the anti-gay-marriage group Oregon Family Council and a member of the Defense of Marriage Coalition, the group behind Oregon's Measure 36. He's spent time as the pastor of the conservative City Bible Church, whose website defines marriage as "the covenant relationship between a man and a woman." And in the past, he has advocated for a more compassionate response to illegal immigration.
But out of the 28 members of Oregon's delegation, 18—including Nashif—were pledged to vote for Trump. And Nashif says he's coming around to the GOP's now-official presidential nominee, despite Trump's moderate views on gay and transgender rights and his hard-line stance on immigration.
(He sounds more impressed than Sen. Ted Cruz, who snubbed Trump in a convention speech Wednesday night, after this interview.)
WW reached Nashif by phone on Wednesday to talk about how the GOP is coming together for Donald Trump, the RNC's best speakers, and the similarities between Melania and Michelle's convention speeches.
What's been the best part of the convention so far?
I've been to five conventions, and this one has more actual impact and substance than any I've been to before. [It's] the quality of the speakers and what they have to say. And there's a clash of philosophies that couldn't contrast more between the Democrats and Republicans. You have the terrorism things, and you have the cop things, and the Black Lives Matter stuff. I don't know how the American electorate is going to respond to that. You know how it is when you're in the middle of history, [seeing] things that you've never seen before?
Who's been your favorite speaker?
Gosh, that's a tough one. There's been some really good ones. If you want red meat, then it was Chris Christie. If you want to understand, which I do, more and more about the man Donald Trump is, then I'm happy he's bringing his family up there. I'm impressed. He's got good kids. I don't know that that happens by accident.
Are you concerned about GOP unity after the "Never Trump" rebellion on the first day?
Every night that goes by I'm less concerned about it. If I'm absolutely honest with you, Trump was never on my short list. But now I have a different feeling. I feel like I'm getting to know him.
What are you seeing now that you're getting to know Trump?
Number one, Donald actually cares about the country. And number two, he's willing to put people in place who know a whole lot more about certain things than he does. And that's a sign of a pretty smart man. I think Pence is a very good pick for vice president. There's other people that [Trump's] packing around him that are pretty talented, pretty sharp people.
Is he winning over a lot of people at the convention?
There's no doubt about it that he's winning over people. The convention is winning over people. People are softening on Trump. They're beginning to believe that he may be the guy that can bring change.
George W. Bush recently said he was worried he was going be the last Republican president. What are your thoughts on that?
If we're looking at the status quo, the way things have been, then I'd agree. [But] I'm not convinced. The Northeast could come into play. The Northeast has never been in play for Republicans. There seems to be a realignment going on, much like what happened with Reagan.
Is Trump a Reaganesque figure?
He is in that he draws people outside the traditional party. And the proof of that is he got more votes in the Republican primary than any other Republican in history. You can't ignore that.
What are your thoughts on the controversy around Melania Trump's speech?
To me it's not a controversy. On the floor, among the delegates, we just loved it. The plagiarism stuff—to me, it looked like it was only about a minute and a half or two minutes out of the whole speech. Somebody made a mistake somewhere. It happens all the time. If it's the entire speech, okay, gosh, we got a problem. But if it's two minutes? She did a good job. It sounds to me like she's a very good American.