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NY Delegates Don't Agree With Trump On Everything

New York’s delegation to the RNC is the national spotlight for casting the votes to put Donald Trump over the top for the Presidential nomination in Cleveland this week. But not all of the state’s politicians are in agreement over some of Trump’s most controversial foreign policies.

There was a frequent refrain from Donald Trump at rallies during the primary campaign.

“We’re going to build a wall, the likes of which you’ve never seen,” Trump said at a rally in Albany in April .

And, as nearly everyone has heard by now, Trump says Mexico is going to pay for it.

New York’s republicans, who are generally more moderate than the rest of the nation, now say they are solidly behind Trump, and they were proud to deliver the votes to bring him over the top at the convention.

But if you drill down deeper, many top state Republicans remain uncomfortable with  “the wall”, as well as Trump’s varying statements on restricting immigration, including  banning immigrants from Muslim countries. 

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2014, is not in favor of Trump’s immigration ideas, and he says Trump has used some words that he would never say.

“I really try to build bridges and not walls,” said Astorino, who recently was in Mexico to complete a college student exchange agreement.

“But, I understand what he’s saying,” Astorino said. “We have an immigration system that is completely broken in this country. And I have to deal with that as a county executive.”

But Astorino says he still thinks Trump would do much better  running the country than Hillary Clinton, on issues like fighting terrorism, and improving the economy.

“Do I agree with everything he says? No,” he said. “But I didn’t agree with my parents on everything either.”

State Senate GOP Leader John Flanagan, from Long Island, says there are some practical obstacles to building a wall along the entire US border with Mexico, though he says he is concerned with illegal immigration. But he says he would never advocate going as far as Trump is proposing for Muslim immigrants.

“Banning Muslims, no,” said Flanagan. “Do I think we have to have strict security policies to protect American citizens? Absolutely.”

Senate Republicans are struggling to maintain control of the Senate in November in an increasingly blue state.

Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman and former Republican gubernatorial candidate, was an early Trump supporter and is now running his campaign in New York. Paladino has no problem with the wall, and he says Trump is only voicing what many people really think, when they are freed from political correctness.

“He doesn’t have the same restrictions as the progressives describe to us as absolutes. They’re not absolutes,” Paladino said. “There’s a different way of living. There’s a different approach to things.”

Paladino says Trump is a businessman who knows that it’s best to negotiate from a position of strength.

“He’s willing to go and say ‘you mess with us, Mexico, you’re going to have to pay the dues for that’.” 

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox offers a more diplomatic response, saying view the wall as a symbol of the country’s stalled immigration policies.

“The wall is a metaphor,” said Cox. 

But Cox says he believes that if elected, Trump will actually build it. 

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of public radio stations in New York state. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.
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