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WORCESTER — Massachusetts Republicans love President Trump, even if their governor and many fellow residents don't.

The party faithful, who gathered for the state GOP convention Saturday, expressed broad and deep support for Trump in more than a dozen interviews with the Globe, and they praised his accomplishments, even as some telegraphed discomfort with the president's iconoclastic style.

"I like what he does. I don't like what he says. But he gets things done," said Ron Hallee, a 74-year-old delegate from Walpole.

Hallee pointed specifically to apparent progress on the Korean Peninsula — "Something seems to be moving there," he said — and gave Trump good marks for his appointments, as short and controversial as some of their tenures may be.


"They don't seem to stay very long. But the ones he chooses are solid in my mind," Hallee said.

The 2,400 delegates at the confab — the party's most ardent activists — came to formally nominate and endorse candidates for the Sept. 4 GOP primary and listen to those aspiring for public office on the 2018 ticket.

Most of the candidates avoided any direct mention of President Trump in their remarks, instead sticking to issues closer to home. For example, both candidates for state attorney general knocked Massachusetts' current top prosecutor, Maura T. Healey, for using the office's limited resources to be part of more than two dozen lawsuits against the Trump administration.

But gubernatorial hopeful Scott Lively was more direct ("I'm 100 percent pro-Trump"), as were many delegates.

Scott Lively, a Republican candidate for governor, spoke during the state party’s convention Saturday.
Scott Lively, a Republican candidate for governor, spoke during the state party’s convention Saturday.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

First-time delegate Gil Hoss, a 75-year-old retired pharmacist who lives in Revere, spoke warmly about Trump. "I think he's doing a good job. I wish he'd receive more cooperation," he said, noting how divided the country remains.

"Internationally, on jobs, taxes, I think we're better off than we were a year ago," Hoss said.


Julian Munnich, a longtime delegate who lives in Natick, said he approves of what Trump is doing as president even as he does not approve of the president's style.

"That said, I know why he's using it," he said, as the sounds of the convention reverberated through Worcester's DCU Center. "The establishment in DC had set up a whole series of etiquettes that prevented anyone from undoing the status quo — call it the swamp, call it what you will."

Trump's forthcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was an example of the president's success on the international stage for many delegates.

Mary Pavilonis, 55, of Marshfield praised the job Trump has done so far.

The president is "really trying to be strong on foreign policy. . . . It reminds me of Reagan: peace through strength."

Pavilonis said she's "so excited about North Korea."

But Republicans in Worcester kept returning to one sore point: Trump's personal style.

His Twitter outbursts, they said, overshadow progress he's making elsewhere.

"If I was unhappy about something, I would write a letter and then sleep on it, and then change it in the morning," said Henry Labonte, a 71-year-old Attleboro delegate. "I wish, if I can tell him one thing: Sleep on your words."

In 2016, Trump got 1,090,893 votes in Massachusetts compared with Hillary Clinton's 1,995,196. Since then, Governor Charlie Baker has crafted a careful path speaking out against the president. The Republican has crafted his criticism in muted tones of disappointment that emphasize where White House policies would hurt Massachusetts, and he's done so without catapulting himself into the national spotlight.


National surveys have found that Massachusetts registered voters disapprove of the president as much as any other state.

In March 2018, 64 percent of Massachusetts voters said they disapproved of his job performance, while one-third approved, according to a Morning Consult survey.

Not every Republican in Worcester on Saturday had voted for Trump in November 2016.

Harvey Ussach said he has long disliked Trump. A New York City native, he's been a witness to Trump's headline-grabbing persona for years. He just can't stand Trump's "habits," he said, enough so that the Republican couldn't bring himself to vote for his party's nominee in 2016.

"I just despise him," Ussach said.

And yet . . .

"I shouldn't hold that against him," the 69-year-old New Bedford resident said, in turn praising Trump for his "out-of-the-box" approach on North Korea and his hard-line stance with NATO.

"He may," Ussach said, "turn out to do the right thing."

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com and Matt Stout can be reached at matt.stout@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @mattpstout.