You wonder just how many times the Republican Party will get down on its knees and bow down to religious conservatives. Now the GOP is being pressured not to hold its convention in Las Vegas.
Right now if I had to bet money in Vegas, I’d bet that the Republican convention won’t be held in Vegas:
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.
FYI this report is from the Dallas Morning News, an excellent newspaper in Dallas that knows a great national story with a local tie in when it sees one. I bet there’s a cellphone overload now as Dallas bigwigs pitch the city to the GOP.
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.”
Of course some might suggest these folks shut their trap since what happens in Vegas is by free choice. Oops! Choice is a dirty word..
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.”
Thank you, Mr. Dobson, for giving us the exact number of pages of escort service ads in the phone book. I didn’t know that.
But, then, I never looked and counted.
How many Americans think of Vegas as darkly decadent, sinister, a trap waiting to spring?
Not the majority but, then, the Republican Party these days doesn’t seem too concerned over the majority, just satisfying and pandering to its base. And this group is (tah-dah!) part of the base.
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.”
Not to mention the slot machines and, if you’re interested, counting all the pages of escort ads in the telephone book.
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.
And that, to be sure, is a concern.
And, that, of course would the fault of Vegas, its hard working business folks, and its population of families and very large number of churches.
The issue, you see, isn’t about CHOICE.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.