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(LEAD) Republican Party opens national convention to nominate Trump as presidential candidate

All News 07:49 July 19, 2016

(ATTN: UPDATES with RNC spokesman's comments in last 5 paras)

CLEVELAND/WASHINGTON, July 18 (Yonhap) -- The U.S. Republican Party opened its national convention Monday to officially nominate Donald Trump as its standard-bearer for the November presidential election as the party remains deeply divided over his candidacy.

The four-day convention in Cleveland, Ohio, will culminate with a Trump speech accepting the nomination on Thursday. His nomination comes amid persisting questions about whether the combative candidate will be able to put the badly divided party together.

Underlining the division, high-profile Republicans are skipping the convention, including former Presidents George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, former Republican presidential nominees Mitt Romney and John McCain, as well as John Kasich, the governor of the state hosting the convention.

During the convention, about 60 people will take the podium to make speeches in support of Trump, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and former presidential primary rivals Sen. Ted Cruz and Ben Carson.

The party will also unveil its new policy platform and formally select Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as Trump's vice presidential running mate. Trump named Pence as his pick Friday.

Pence, 57, is known as a staunch conservative and a member of the conservative Tea Party movement. A veteran politician with a dozen years as a House lawmaker before becoming governor in 2013, Pence could also strengthen Trump's connections to Congress and the party.

Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, is scheduled to be nominated at the Democratic National Convention set for July 25-28 in Philadelphia.

Clinton is expected to name her vice presidential pick later this week. Leading candidates include Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Republican National Convention (RNC) Asian and Pacific Islander Communications Director Jason Chung said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency that he is confident Trump will ultimately emerge victorious in the November election.

"Mr. Trump has done a lot to unite the party. He has so many, millions of voters who supported him during the primary. That's going to carry over to the general election," Chung said. "This party is about grassroots involvement, and you have a lot of different people, different ethnicities, different individuals coming out to support Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump's candidacy."

He also said that any anti-Trump movements will ultimately fail.

Chung, who is a Korean-American, said that his job is to help Trump win as many votes as possible from Korean-American and other Asian-American voters.

"I'm going to ensure that we compete, and we earn the votes and the trust of Korean-Americans in this country," he said.


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