Wednesday, June 25, 2014

CLE + GOP? I blame legal pot

Who’s more likely to come to Cleveland? I asked last night. The Republicans, or LeBron?

“Republicans,” my co-workers said. Good call.

LeBron and Cleveland would have to swallow their pride to get back together. But to bring the 2016 Republican convention to Cleveland, the GOP and the deep-blue city would just have to agree to a slightly uncomfortable, short-term, mutually beneficial arrangement: We get their hundreds of millions of dollars in travel spending, they get a chance at our votes.

Today, to the surprise of most of Cleveland, we’re in the finals. The Republicans actually called us a “world-class city.” It’s a seductive compliment. Cleveland boosters repeat it to each other all the time, but never hear it from an outsider.

As for Denver and Kansas City? “We felt fortunate to get to know them,” says the polite suitor, as if writing an email after a sparks-free third date.

Today, Clevelanders are blinking in the afternoon light, surprised to get this far. Never mind that Dallas is still the favorite, still culturally familiar ground for the Republicans in a red state full of conservative donors. If the party decides to hold its convention in state it wants to nudge into the win column, we’re the choice.

From, the website supporting our bid:
In the 2012 presidential election, no county in Ohio cast as many votes as Cuyahoga County… a voter swing of as little as 15% in Cuyahoga County would have turned Ohio red. The 2016 Republican Convention presents an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of Ohioans early.
So we’re going into the finals with swing-state advantage. That’s the biggest surprise today.

How’d we beat Denver?

OK, the new convention center gets some credit, and the hotel boom it’s kicked off. The Rock Hall gets some credit too. Republicans like rock ‘n’ roll -- even if they have to use country music as campaign themes because no rock stars will give them permission except Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and Meat Loaf.

Still, how did the Rs choose Lake Erie over the Rocky Mountains?

I blame legal pot.

No Republican really wants to hold a convention in a state where marijuana is legal. That’s not just because they don’t like the law. They fear awkward viral iPhone photos of blazer-and-tie-clad delegates puffing joints, passing out in hotel fountains after downing more edibles than Maureen Dowd, and generally making Johnny Manziel’s twitpics look dignified. They don’t want Vice trolling the town for clickbait like “I Sold The Kansas GOP Chair A Huge Bag Of Reefer.” People expect Democrats to be closet stoners, but it’d hurt the GOP brand.

Cleveland is a harmless place to bring Republican delegates because our vice isn’t marijuana. It’s self-pity.

The most the Republicans could do to embarrass themselves in a very Cleveland way would be to get photographed in a very Cleveland T-shirt. They should especially avoid the ones that say, “There’s Always Next Year.”

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