From the 18th to 21st of July, the Republican party will descend on Cleveland, Ohio for the third time in its history for a national convention. 2,470 delegates and 2,302 alternate delegates will fill Quicken Loans arena and hope to bring the second unexpected victory of 2016 to the city by the lake after Lebron James and his Cavaliers won the NBA title.
Cleveland hotels are sold out, restaurants are booked and protesters have hit the streets.
Add 15,000 card-carrying media members, 120 full-time staffers who have been living in Cleveland for months, 50,000 visiting Republicans and the most contentious candidate in the party’s history, and the 2016 RNC is poised to be the most eventful since the party of Lincoln became the party of Reagan.
In light of recent tragedies, electronic highway signs leading in to Cleveland tell visitors to call the FBI if they see something suspicious Parts of the city look more like it's prepping for a cage match, with miles of eight-foot-high fences meant to help police control crowds of protesters.
Organizers are preparing for four different slates of speakers, creating an app that will show convention goers around Cleveland and keep their schedules for the duration, overseeing construction of a “Freedom Market,” and dealing with no less than six florists.
The star of the convention, whether the GOP establishment foresaw it or not, will be Donald Trump. Not even the convention holding pressers at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame could put a dent in the Donald’s onslaught—the kind of motor-powered sound bite ubiquity that made the unlikely candidate his party’s official choice in the first place.
There may still be those, like 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who hope for a “brokered” convention in which the delegates on the floor—who officially cast the votes to name the nominee, taking the “presumptive” away from their title—turn on a dime and support another candidate, but as more and more of the GOP holds its nose and agrees to back Trump, that becomes less likely every day.
As for whose voices will usher in Donald Trump’s candidacy, one will reportedly belong to Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump’s most vocal opponent in a bitterly fought primary battle that saw the Texan Senator referred to as “Lyin’ Ted” by Trump. Trump’s children, who seem to become more involved in his White House run by the day, will also no doubt make appearances. As the media and the Republican world eagerly awaited the official list of speakers Friday, the names being thrown around, apart from Cruz’s, weren’t those of high-ranking members of the party.
They were rather names like Don King, Tom Brady and Bob Knight, high-profile republican civilians, or else names like Ben Carson, once a high-ish profile republican civilian and now a name being constantly thrown about in the GOP running-mate brainstorm. Whichever speeches end up being heard in Cleveland, one thing is certain: the convention will officially cap off the strangest, longest primary season in recent history.