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Liberal Son Attends GOP Convention With Delegate Dad


Now for a story of politics and family bonding.

CHRIS BOLIN: And Dad texted me, said he was going to the convention. And I asked if he had a guest pass.

JIM BOLIN: I thought it might be a nice - kind of a father-son get-together.

MCEVERS: Jim Bolin is a retired schoolteacher from South Dakota and a delegate to the Republican National Convention. His son, Chris, is a self-described liberal. He's a software engineer from Cambridge, Mass. This week, both Bolins were together in Cleveland at the RNC. And at our request, they kept this audio diary.

J. BOLIN: I firmly believe as my son gets older, a number of the presuppositions he has about a number of issues - he'll adjust those over time. I'm convinced of that.

C. BOLIN: So ironically, we might both be here quietly evangelizing to the other, (laughter) thinking we're making progress.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Let's make America great again. Let's elect Donald Trump the next president of the United States of America.


J. BOLIN: So what'd you think of the whole thing, you think?

C. BOLIN: I think I didn't quite expect to feel this awkward. It was really - and we were coming here on the bus and there was a lot of - a woman made this statement about how Christians were obligated to vote for Trump, that God had given them this man. So I don't know. I feel very strange about this. And I don't know how to react because I don't know if I can out myself as the lone liberal here.


CHRIS CHRISTIE: Tonight, as a former federal prosecutor, I welcome the opportunity to hold Hillary Rodham Clinton accountable for her performance and her character.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.

C. BOLIN: That was, I think, the most horrifying time for me. It was very scary to be in that room with people chanting, you know, guilty or lock her up. It feels like Christie worked up a mob, in some ways. I don't know. And he's laughing, but...

J. BOLIN: It's part of the psychology of the convention. A week from now, you're going to hear all these terrible, nasty things about Donald Trump. The people that are here are very partisan. This is the base of the base of the Republican Party, for the most part.

C. BOLIN: You don't think that's going too far?

J. BOLIN: I - no, not at the convention like this. I mean, this is not a court room. This is a political convention. There has to be a little bit of levity to it. People dance on the floor, there's music. And it's kind of...

C. BOLIN: You think there's levity when people are yelling guilty and lock her up?

J. BOLIN: Democrats in '08 were talking about how they wanted to impeach George Bush, put George Bush in prison, all of these kind of things. And that's to be expected in the rough-and-tumble world of politics.


DONALD TRUMP: I humbly and gratefully accept your nomination...


J. BOLIN: I liked a lot of what Donald Trump said tonight. It still comes down - in a country with a $19 trillion dollar debt, how are you going to pay for all this stuff? I haven't perhaps moved to being a Trump enthusiast, but I am more pro-Trump than I was when I started.

C. BOLIN: That's literally the exact opposite of what I thought would happen. I mean, yeah, my mission here was to somehow show you that this man is - the list is so long - is a narcissist, is foul. And you've gone the other way. Honestly, like, I think a lot of this is just - it's the game of politics. It's the team sport. And I think I realize that my dad is red team. Go red team. I don't know. I'm just kind of blown away.

J. BOLIN: We still respect each other, but...

C. BOLIN: I don't think I have any less respect now than I did before. I have a lot more understanding, though.

J. BOLIN: I have two sons, one who agrees with me on very many things and one who I say has gone to the dark side. I'll use that expression.

C. BOLIN: But we've managed to do all right. We can joke about it. We're still smiling right now.

J. BOLIN: It's been a good week.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) Trump, Trump, Trump...

MCEVERS: That's Jim Bolin, South Dakota delegate, and his son, Chris, with their audio diary from the Republican National Convention. We'd like to thank Kavitha Pele (ph) for her help with this story. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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