RNC Chooses Cleveland: 'There Is A Lot Of Hard Work To Be Done'

The RNC chose Cleveland... (WCPN/Tony Ganzer)
The RNC chose Cleveland... (WCPN/Tony Ganzer)
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Cleveland has edged out Dallas to host the 2016 Republican National Convention. The site selection committee voted to recommend Cleveland today. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Fox News this was a business decision.

“When it came down to hotels, the venue, the arena—it was unbelievable. The Q there, Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers, what they’ve got and what they’ve built there in Cleveland is really something to see. Connected to the Q though is Jacobs Field…the suites, restaurants,” Preibus said, referring to Progressive, formerly Jacobs, Field.

“In the end as well, it’s Cleveland, Ohio, and as goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race.”

We will hear more about the specifics of the convention in the coming weeks and months, but for more insight on the strategy at play here, ideastream’s Tony Ganzer spoke with Mark Weaver, a Republican political strategist based in Ohio.

WEAVER: “A lot of good people worked long hours to put together a very strong proposal to bring the Republican convention to Cleveland. People all around the country know that Ohio is the ultimate swing-state in Presidential politics, and the Republican Party realizes that bringing the convention here could give the candidate a leg-up in 2016.”

GANZER: “As a lot of people have pointed out, though, the location of a convention does not necessarily mean winning that place, and Cleveland is firmly blue, is it not?”

WEAVER: “No doubt that Cuyahoga County has a traditional Democrat background, and they often vote Democrat both in statewide and Presidential elections. But by bringing the Republican convention to Northeast Ohio, it will energize our Republican base in Ohio. It will also show Republican activists from across America how important Ohio is, and may encourage them to participate later in the year as Republicans look to Ohio to deliver the Whitehouse.”

GANZER: “How much of a factor do you think Democrat activists might be? Do you think that the protests here may be more fierce than they would be in Dallas?”

WEAVER: “Well I’ve been to a lot of political conventions over the years, and no matter where they’re held, you could hold one in Guam, and activists from both sides would show up with their agendas and their signs. So I think there will be protests no matter where the convention is held, and I doubt that was part of the calculus.”

GANZER: “What do you think concretely won it for Cleveland, because Cleveland is often seen as an underdog in all things, but can you point to some firm items that maybe the RNC was looking at and said, ‘yeah, this place has its stuff together’?”

WEAVER: “Cleveland has come a long way from the dark days of the 1970s, and Ohio has become a political powerhouse in that same time period. A lot of good people including former Republican Party chairman Bob Bennett and Cuyahoga County Republican Party chairman Rob Frost and many others worked very hard to showcase Cleveland and the many great things it has to offer.”

GANZER: “Do you think geography or availability; are these things that maybe pushed it over the top?”

WEAVER: “Certainly logistics is always one of the considerations when choosing a convention site. And the folks in Cuyahoga County and surrounding areas had to put forth a very aggressive proposal of transportation, hotel rooms, catering, that sort of thing. This just proves that Cleveland is a world-class city, and can compete with anybody when it comes to attracting a major event like the Republican National Convention.”

GANZER: “There is still time, but there is also a lot to do. You talk about logistics challenges, and even though there is a plan in place, some people are wondering…will we be ready. What do you say to that concern?”

WEAVER: “Well there is a lot of hard work to be done. This is not the end. Let’s take a day to celebrate, but a lot of folks will have to work very hard to be ready because there are millions of individual decisions that have to made with respect to logistics. The catering business, the tourism business, hotels, restaurants, transportation, all of those industries will need to hire people and get ready for what will be a very important event in Cleveland.”

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