Here I am in Cleveland, the host city of the Republican National Convention. I ended my day at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a must-see American museum icon with gorgeous views of this beautiful city on Lake Erie. Cleveland is an unlikely host city for the RNC; it remains a stronghold of democratic activism:
- The last Republican presidential candidate to carry Cuyahoga County where Cleveland sits was Richard Nixon in 1972.
- The last Republican to win a Cleveland mayoral election was George Voinovich in 1985.
- The 69.4 percent of the Cuyahoga County vote won by Barack Obama in 2012 was higher than any other county in Ohio.
- The margin of victory for Obama over Mitt Romney in Cuyahoga County (256,613 votes) two years ago was big enough for him to overcome losing Ohio’s other 87 counties by a combined 90,341 votes.
- The 2012 election marked the fifth straight time the Democrat showing in Cuyahoga County increased. Bill Clinton received 60.8 percent in 1996; Al Gore 62.6 percent in 2000; John Kerry 66.6 percent in 2004; and Obama 68.9 percent in 2008.
Yet the RNC is in Cleveland because Ohio is a swing state in electoral politics, and Cleveland’s political leaders—many of them Democrats—fought hard to bring the money and luster of the convention to their city. But so many Republican stalwarts are missing; no Bush family members, no Gov. John Kasich speaking.
But today, the first of the convention, was filled with tension. There were police from every corner of America; I saw their badges and I asked them about being in Cleveland. It’s hot today—88 degrees. They are weighed down head to toe with walkie talkies, guns in holsters, and all sorts of other equipment. I feel for them and admire their willingness to be here.
From Kansas to California law enforcement, they said they were recruited nationwide to ensure there was no shortage of protection for delegates and visitors. They told me there were police from 140 places. I expected to see a vivid array of firearms, but was relieved that there were no civilians carrying guns. I walked over to St. Clair Street before noon; a 20 something kid with a ragged beard and a sign “GOP=Same Old Klan” directed me. The protestors marched with #BlackLivesMatter and Socialism signs peacefully and were accompanied by at least 150 police on bicycles. But the crowd was small; I think that many people stayed home.
Starbucks was full of reporters using the free Wifi to file stories before rushing to their next assignment.
Walking around town was a mixed bag. Many locals are selling Donald Trump tshirts and buttons, spouting sexist insults directed at the first woman nominated by a major party in America. I guess they can’t resist using the B word and worse. I felt anger welling up at the kind of misogynist slogans aimed.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman welcomed two former VP hopefuls—Newt Gingrich and Sen. Joni Ernst—at a speech at Cuyahoga Community College, in support of Sen. Portman. I was pleased that Sen. Ernst talked about passing legislation against human trafficking, something NCL cares about deeply.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame featured an excellent session on data security and privacy with Republican FTC Commissioner Maureen Ohlhausen, who is especially articulate on these issues.
I worried about getting around, but it’s not too bad. I saw no taxis, but Ubers and Lyfts abound. I got rides within five minutes of my call, and we worked around the traffic with little difficulty.
I’ll be at the RNC every day posting my observations. Hope today’s smooth sailing continues through the week!