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Religious Conservatives To GOP: Don’t Hold Convention In Vegas

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At some point before the end of the summer, we should know for sure where the 2016 Republican National Convention will be held. Among the cities under consideration are two cities in Ohio, Cincinnati and Cleveland, Kansas City (site of the 1980 Convention that nominated Ronald Reagan), Dallas, Denver, and Las Vegas, a city that has never hosted a major party convention. The final choice will likely come down to which selection might help boost the GOP’s chances in the November election, which is why Ohio likely has a good shot at getting the convention, but there’s been much talk about the idea of holding the convention in “Sin City,” and religious conservatives are warning the GOP to stay away:

 

WASHINGTON — Some of the heaviest hitters on the religious right are pressuring GOP leaders to cross off Las Vegas as a potential host city for its 2016 convention, warning that putting the next convention in Sin City will harm the party’s image and drive away supporters.

Dallas already pitches itself as a more wholesome alternative to Vegas, and the push-back could bolster the city’s effort.

The leaders sent a letter last week to Republican chairman Reince Priebus, putting him on notice that picking Vegas would generate friction. They call the city a “trap waiting to ensnare. … What could go wrong? The answer is obvious.”

Leaders from the religious right who have joined the effort include Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association; Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum; Andrea Lafferty, president of the Traditional Values Coalition; Paul Caprio, director of Family-PAC; and James Dobson, president of Family Talk ministry.

“The GOP is supposedly interested in reaching out to conservatives and evangelicals. Maybe that’s just a front, but if they really mean it this is not the way to do it,” Dobson said Tuesday. “Even though Vegas has tried to shore itself up and call itself family-friendly, it’s still a metaphor for decadence. There’s still 64 pages of escort services in the yellow pages. … You can’t have it both ways.”

The Las Vegas host committee’s marketing pitch for the 2016 convention emphasizes the city’s number of hotel rooms (150,000), golf courses (50) and places of worship (531).

Jack St. Martin, executive director of the Las Vegas 2016 host committee, sidestepped the evangelicals’ objections Tuesday. With so much hotel and meeting space, he said, the city “offers the Republican Party and the conservative cause the best opportunity in a generation to house, train, educate, motivate and activate the grass-roots volunteers that make up the foundation of the GOP.”

But the potential for viral video of delegates engaged in Hangover-style hijinks makes some party insiders nervous. When Vegas boosters made their pitch to the RNC on March 21, former Nevada Gov. Bob List acknowledged such concerns.

“We took it head-on,” he said. “Las Vegas is a metropolitan area of over 2 million people. We’re not just all blackjack dealers and pawnshop operators. This is a city with 6,000 members of the chamber of commerce, 20,000 Boy Scouts. We have massive soccer leagues, the fifth-largest school district in America. We’re an all-around city with a fast-growing population of Catholics and Jews and Hispanics. It’s a big metropolitan area.”

On the other hand, one of the bid committee’s promotional videos features Rick Harrison, co-owner of a pawnshop and star of the reality TV show Pawn Stars.

“You’ll love it here,” he says into the camera.

A political convention in Las Vegas would certainly be an epic event, and there’s no question that the city has the space to handle the crowds that either political party would bring. At same time, though, Las Vegas still has a certain, shall we say, reputation that I am guessing neither Republicans nor Democrats would want to be associated with during an election year. The potential shenanigans, and resulting headlines, pretty much write themselves. Add to that the fact that Las Vegas in the summer can reach temperatures exceeding 100°, and I’m thinking that the RNC will be looking elsewhere for a convention site. My personal guess is that the Republican Convention will end up being held in either Cinncinnati, Cleveland, or Kansas City, all safe Mid-Western cities and all of them far away from any threat of hurricanes.

Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that the main reason these religious conservatives are warning the RNC about Vegas is because they know the power of temptation all too personally.

H/T: The Moderate Voice

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I don’t understand their objection at all. Just think of all the souls they could save! I thought that was the business they were in! Why, I would think they couldn’t wait to go there! WWJD? Besides, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, something that the innumerable hypocrites among the So-Cons should just love.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 3

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    With so much hotel and meeting space, he said, the city “offers the Republican Party and the conservative cause the best opportunity in a generation to house, train, educate, motivate and activate the grass-roots volunteers

    Ohhh, yeah…. they certainly will do that.

    We’re an all-around city with a fast-growing population of Catholics and Jews and Hispanics.

    3 more strikes against Vegas…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  3. superdestroyer says:

    ONe would think that after years of being nitpicked to death by liberal and progressive activist for every statement or behavior, that at least a few Republicans would be smart enough to avoid situations that can and will be turned into attack ads.

    The Republicans would probably be better off to do away with the conventions since every convention in the last 30 years has ended up hurting the Republicans instead of helping them.
    I guess the party establishment loves the free party more than avoiding the poor messaging they get out of their conventions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  4. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    Yeah…don’t change your message…just hide.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  5. Sejanus says:

    Speaking of Nevada, the local GOP there has decided to drop anti-marriage equality and anti-choice planks from its platform.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  6. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The conventions are an anachronistic event that should have ended long ago. The parties just keep them going because the believe they benefit from the media coverage. However, the Repubicans should have learned by now that they do not get any positive media coverage from their conventions. Whether it is a speech, misbehavior outside the convention, or just the demographics of the attendees, all the Republicans get out of their conventions is bad press.

    What will probably end the conventions is when the Republican party completes its collapse and the Democrats decide that they have to find a new way to selection the president when the Democratic Party primaries are the real election and the general election is just a rubber stamping of whatever the Democratic Party establishment has decided.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 6

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Whether it is a speech, misbehavior outside the convention, or just the demographics of the attendees, all the Republicans get out of their conventions is bad press.

    Yes, ending conventions will stop Republicans from saying stupid things, engaging people not their spouses for immoral purposes, and turn their skin tone to a less shockingly shade of white. That will fix everything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  8. superdestroyer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It will not fix everything but at least it will eliminate one source of bad messaging. Having real primaries (where one needs 50% of the vote to be nominated) would go along way to also helping by eliminating many of the idiots.

    What the Republicans have to realize is they will be scrutinized at a much higher level than Democrats ever will be. Thus, they need to plan on it and their staffs need to operate from the POV that everything they say will be reviewed, fact checked, and distorted every way possible. It is amazing how many Republicans take short cuts while believing they will not be caught.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. Tillman says:

    @superdestroyer:

    However, the Repubicans should have learned by now that they do not get any positive media coverage from their conventions. Whether it is a speech, misbehavior outside the convention, or just the demographics of the attendees, all the Republicans get out of their conventions is bad press.

    I don’t recall bad press from the ’08 convention. Palin wasn’t vetted by the press till after, so the convention itself worked fine.

    All the bad press for the ’12 convention was because they decided to set the theme of the entire thing on a misconception of what the president said in another speech. You’re begging for bad press when you do something stupid like that for your entire shindig, and the speakers all throughout just reiterated the theme like dumb parrots. It’s not even that the Democratic convention speeches were better; it’s that they were less moronic and more boilerplate. And who can forget Clint Eastwood?

    That’s not demographics or a coming one-party state making conventions a bad idea. That’s piss-poor planning and pathetic mismanagement turning a convention into a bad idea.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @superdestroyer:

    It will not fix everything but at least it will eliminate one source of bad messaging.

    Now all you have to do is get them to shut up the other 1,454 days between conventions. Good luck with that. The problem is not bad messaging, the problem is a bad message.

    Having real primaries (where one needs 50% of the vote to be nominated) would go along way to also helping by eliminating many of the idiots.

    Didn’t help in 2012.

    What the Republicans have to realize is they will be scrutinized at a much higher level than Democrats ever will be.

    Yeah. Nobody EVER looks at any of the shenanigans that Democrats engage in….

    Thus, they need to plan on it and their staffs need to operate from the POV that everything they say will be reviewed, fact checked, and distorted every way possible accurately represented.

    FTFY. In reality, it is not that things Republicans say don’t get distorted from time to time, they do. The problem is that so often what they say doesn’t have to be distorted at all to make them look bad.

    It is amazing how many Republicans take short cuts while believing they will not be caught.

    No. What is amazing is how many Republicans think an appearance on FOX News means they can say out loud what ever stupid sh!t is rattling around inside their brains this week, and nobody is going to notice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  11. Pharoah Narim says:

    Come on Doug! The biggest story in Nevada is this Cattle Rancher / Bureau of Land Management Standoff!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  12. Andre Kenji says:

    Political Conventions are a reflection of the General Election Campaigns: well run General Election Campaigns have good and well run conventions. The 1988 Keynote speech by Bill Clinton was ridiculed by the Press, there is also the 1972 convention. I don´t remember any Republican Convention that received that level of criticism.

    Besides that, Conventions are televised. Everyone can see them and have a opinion about them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Andre Kenji: ’68 was the mother (f’r) of all Democratic Conventions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. al-Ameda says:

    I recommend that the GOP hold their convention in Mogadishu, Pyongyang, or San’aa.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  15. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Whether it is a speech, misbehavior outside the convention, or just the demographics of the attendees, all the Republicans get out of their conventions is bad press.

    So true, FoxNews is reflexively critical of the Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. edmondo says:

    The hookers in Vegas must be pretty nervous that so many members of Congress could show up at one time. The competition would be epic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  17. Tyrell says:

    @superdestroyer: I agree and think that these conventions are no longer what they used to be and do not have any real function. TV viewer ratings are very low. And they always wind up using tax money in way or the other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  18. Tillman says:

    @Tyrell: The taxpayer money going to them is a real problem with conventions.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  19. Pinky says:

    The Republicans almost have to have their convention in a Great Lakes state where they recently captured the governorship. They’d be smart to wait and see if Kasich wins, then put it in Ohio.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    “Sin city?” More like “Mall City.” All the gambling has been thrust underground into remote smoke-filled rooms. The ground level and many levels above are now one endless mall, and not with your Old Navy and JC Penny kind of outlets. After the third Prada store, I was tapped out on my handbag budget.

    If the GOP is going to cancel a convention based on sin, it will have to hold it on Europa, I’m afraid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  21. Tyrell says:

    @James in Silverdale, WA: I know of some families who went to Vegas and never stepped foot in a casino. It was rides, swimming pools, shows, shopping, and good restaurants. It is far from what it used to be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  22. Eric Florack says:

    (Shrug)
    I suppose a better reason for not holding the convention there, would be Harry Reid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  23. wr says:

    @Tillman: ” The taxpayer money going to them is a real problem with conventions.”

    Since Congress just passed a bill banning that, there’s one less problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. Paul Hooson says:

    If many of the protestant religious conservatives didn’t object to Mormons as a cult religion, then Salt Lake would be perfect choice for them. But, that’s the problem with these religious conservatives, how to appeal to their prejudices and list of “hates” of these softcore hate organizations. For example. Rev. Donald Wildmon is an anti-Semite, so you’d have to find a city with little Jewish influence. For James Dobson, you’d have to have to find a city largely run by conservative protestants with no adult entertainment businesses. Phyllis Schaffly is so racist, that she’s convinced that President Obama is a Communist who wants to redistribute wealth to poor Blacks so you’d want to find a very conservative city with few Blacks to satisfy her. The antiGay Family-PAC of Illinois has little influence in their state, so seems irrelevant here. The Traditional Values Coalition is so prejudged against Muslims that it cannot distinguish the difference between Muslim moderates and al Qaeda. – If there’s some tiny town in some remote part of Mississippi that hasn’t moved ahead socially or diversity by one inch since the Civil War might be the best choice for a meeting place acceptable to all these groups who do a good job letting you know things they hate, but a much less good job promoting anything positive.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  25. anjin-san says:

    Please come to Vegas for the Con-ven-tion
    I’m stayin’ with some friends
    And they’ve got lots of guns.
    We can search for hookers on the sidewalks
    By a cafe where I hope to lower wages soon
    Please come to Vegas.
    She said No
    I don’t do insanity

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  26. stonetools says:

    I’m sure that wherever they choose, the hookers and strippers are going to flock there in their thousands…
    They won’t be able to escape temptation, so they should just leave that out of their calculations. Too cynical?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. Andre Kenji says:

    @Paul Hooson:

    If many of the protestant religious conservatives didn’t object to Mormons as a cult religion, then Salt Lake would be perfect choice for them. B

    I don´t know if Salt Lake City has enough accommodations to host a political convention.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. Grewgills says:

    @Tillman:

    And who can forget Clint Eastwood?

    I wish I could. That performance made me sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  29. dazedandconfused says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    SLC? The worlds first booze-less, hooker-less convention for prostitutes? What are the odds?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. KansasMom says:

    Yet they’ll knife each other in the back (or front) for some Adelson cash. He became a billionaire by building a chain of Christian themed pre-schools didn’t he?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KansasMom: Heh heh…. Good one.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  32. Boyd says:

    Nonetheless, I can’t help but think that the main reason these religious conservatives are warning the RNC about Vegas is because they know the power of temptation all too personally.

    Cheap shot, Doug. That is, unless you truly believe that typical religious conservatives are the caricatures that the intellectually dishonest portray them as. But that would mean you’re incredibly stupid, or just as intellectually dishonest, neither of which I believe is the case. So I’m gonna go with “cheap shot.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  33. M. Bouffant says:

    @Boyd:
    I’m astonished if you find the rogues gallery who wrote the letter to Priebus anything but crude caricatures. (Granted, they are not “typical” religious conservatives They’re movement leaders. Whether that’s better or worse for “typical” religious conservatives is open for debate.)

    “Cheap shot?” Did you read the quote? They admit it:

    They call the city a “trap waiting to ensnare. … What could go wrong? The answer is obvious.”

    They know how weak their faith & morality are. Their constant attempts to get the state to legislate & enforce their morality is as much to keep them on the straight & narrow as it is to keep the pagans repressed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  34. Ken says:

    @superdestroyer: What will probably end the conventions is when the Republican party completes its collapse and the Democrats decide that they have to find a new way to selection the president when the Democratic Party primaries are the real election and the general election is just a rubber stamping of whatever the Democratic Party establishment has decided.

    This is an interesting idea. You should come up with a snappy way to reference this idea quickly and easily to avoid having to type out all those words every time you want to talk about it. What do you think?

    Hey – I’ve got an idea – you could refer to it as the “One Party State”!

    How’s that for original?

    I sure hope James Joyner and the other regular posters here like it

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  35. Tillman says:

    @Boyd:

    Cheap shot, Doug. That is, unless you truly believe that typical religious conservatives are the caricatures that the intellectually dishonest portray them as.

    No, I think he believes they are men, and get up to what men get up to in a city known for helping them get it up.* And as Bouffant points out, it’s not like they’re saying the city is a bad symbol for the Republican party, they’re saying they know representatives will be caught trousers-down in a compromising position.

    * I was about two-thirds through that sentence before I noticed the pun, so…intended.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  36. Pinky says:

    @Boyd: Boyd, I don’t know if you’re a regular around here, but the default position of the comments section seems to be that Republicans hate women, minorities, and the poor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  37. Boyd says:

    @Pinky: I’ve been around OTB so long, I remember when the commenters were mostly from the conservative end of the spectrum. :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  38. Pinky says:

    @Boyd: Sorry, I’m bad with names. What happened to this place, anyway? I’d heard of it as a well-balanced site.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  39. Boyd says:

    @Pinky: People come, people go, I suppose. Life and the Internet move on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  40. Pete S says:

    @Pinky and @Boyd: Many of the commenters here ARE conservative. It is the Republican Party that has moved on.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  41. Boyd says:

    @Pete S: The fact that you bring up Republicans when we were discussing conservatives serves to validate my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  42. Matt Bernius says:

    @Pinky:

    @Boyd: Sorry, I’m bad with names. What happened to this place, anyway? I’d heard of it as a well-balanced site.

    Two thoughts here:

    1. From a authors perspective, the site remains quite balanced, with a right of center lean. The degree that OTB is perceived to have drifted leftward seems to, in general, corresponds to what one thinks as “Conservative.” My understanding is that in the past, the site had a bit more of a populist/Talk Radio Conservatism. James and Steven in particular have been pretty open about how they have moved further and further away from those views.

    2. From a commenters perspective, what made/makes OTB unique for a well traffic’d center-right site, is that the authors regularly participate in the comment threads AND that commenters are never banned for taking contrary positions (provided that they don’t violate the TOC).

    Here’s my general theory for how these two factors interacted to shift the nature of the commenting community here. A number of center-right and center-left sites regularly linked to OTB (especially in the lead up to the 2008 elections). The net result was that a number of liberal/progressive readers came to the site looking for a well-reasoned alternative viewpoint and discovered that they could have active debates with the article authors. They also began to develop personal relationships with each other and the authors.

    The constant and continued presence of those more liberal commenters, combined with the decreasing amount of “conservative inc” content, led to more and more of the early commenters leaving the site (or at least not participating in threads).

    The other thing is that OTB authors have no problems critiquing the Republican party for doing… well pretty boneheaded things. That also didn’t help with many of the more populist readers as well.

    What’s worth noting is that, all things considered, the commenters at OTB site don’t actually agree with the hosts all that much. Doug gets constant pushback, as does James.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  43. Matt Bernius says:

    @Boyd:

    @Pete S: The fact that you bring up Republicans when we were discussing conservatives serves to validate my point.

    There are currently (at least) 3 “conservative” movements in the US:

    1. Populist Conservatives (i.e. Talk Radio/Tea Party)
    2. Conservatives who always vote Republican
    3. Intellectual Conservatives (best represented by Am Con’s bloggers and regular contributors *MINUS Pat Buchannan*)

    However, assuming that anyone who calls themselves “Conservative” is automatically part of one of these groups is problematic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. Matt Bernius says:

    @Ken:
    I’m pretty sure he has a newsletter that you can subscribe to as well…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  45. Tillman says:

    @Matt Bernius: It doesn’t help that plenty who are left, liberal or conservative, love to debate past each other, insult each other, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  46. Matt Bernius says:

    Agreed. Without a doubt, we have trolls, and we also have a lot of people who *angrily* take their bait. Generally speaking, anyone who is commenting to “win” versus have a discussion, isn’t helping.

    * – Full disclosure, I’m guilty of it from time to time as well. Though usually it’s more out of frustration than anger. And usually someone’s actually done something to deserve the “business” (like not participating in a conversation or playing only to “win”).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. @Matt Bernius:

    led to more and more of the early commenters leaving the site (or at least not participating in threads).

    People who aren’t blatant partisans also change over time, so it’s not suprising that over a decade of blogging, some of the early commenters simply don’t have the same political views they once had.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. Matt Bernius says:

    Totally agree. To that point, it’s true that for people like @CharlesAustin, those natural shifts meant that OTB most likely really did leave him.

    Of course, some other commenters we’ve been trying to leave for years, but they keep on coming back. ;P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  49. Speaking of, this appears to be my oldest comment on OTB, from Feburary 22, 2005:

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/lords_prayer_for_modern_times/#comment-37308

    Google doesn’t come up with anything earlier.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. Boyd says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I hadn’t thought of searching for my oldest comment here, which appears to be from Jan 2004.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0