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Guy Benson


Drama at Republican National Convention nothing compared to ‘basket case’ in 1968

The people of Cleveland hosted a raucous party 52 years in the making last month after the Cavaliers ended the city’s championship drought. A different kind of fireworks is expected next week when Donald Trump and the Republican National Convention come to town for what could be the most contentious political fight for the presidency since the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Related: Dave Ross has something in common with Donald Trump

Hordes of law enforcement, protests and a political upheaval could be on the horizon. KIRO Radio hosts Dave Ross, Dori Monson and Jason Rantz will be broadcasting live at the RNC in Cleveland July 18-21 to capture the theatrics. Rantz and Ross answered questions about their expectations heading into the event, which could be filled with multiple Trump-related controversies.

Are you concerned about your safety?

Ross: No. Because, you know how we feel in the news business, as long as that microphone is in your hand – it’s basically got a flag on it and nobody can touch you. That’s why I used to go into tornadoes and murder scenes when I was in Atlanta.

Rantz: My irrational, naturally-anxious side assumes something bad is going to happen. On the one hand, the rational side says the FBI and CIA will be there, they’ve got this covered. But the irrational side says they are only there because there is a threat. I’m so freaked out.

What are you looking forward to?

Ross: I’m hoping to meet actual delegates who find themselves torn between the person they love and the person they are forced to vote for. And I want to see how they’re going to deal with that. I also want to see if there are delegates who are truly concerned that they are losing the Republican Party because I keep hearing that Donald Trump is ruining the Party. I want to see how serious that is. I also want to see how Trump organizes an event like this because I’m on the RNC app that they unveiled Monday and there’s no schedule there yet. They don’t have any speakers scheduled. In past conventions, you don’t waste any time. You rented this big arena, you spent $2 million on the set — you’ve got to have somebody on the podium talking all the time, even if it’s the Dog Catcher from Dubuque. They’ve got nobody even starting to talk at this thing until 5:30 in the afternoon.

Rantz: Personally, I want to see how the Republican’s future is shaped. This convention will either be the decline of the Party or the start of a rebirth. If they embrace Trump and he gets shellacked, this kills the party. If they realize they have to put up with Trump and then rebuild, making it clear they won’t let a non-conservative ever get the nomination again, we can see a future, mainstream Party. I also look forward to talking with a lot of the power players we don’t normally have access to. I plan on meeting Paul Ryan and inviting him to brunch to talk politics, movies and soccer.

What do you expect from Donald Trump?

Ross: Trump being a showman, he’s got to have something up his sleeve. Now, sometimes that’s just another ad-lib speech, but I have to assume even he would be doing some careful planning before doing something like this.

Rantz: I expect a show. He’s an entertainer first and I have no doubt he’ll put on a spectacle. There’s certainly the chance he just riffs his way through a speech but he’s got to realize how big the stakes are and he’ll treat it like if this were a reality show he’s on.

Do you expect a convention coup against Trump?

Ross: Nobody else is in the race, they have all dropped out. I suppose John Kasich will be lurking around the queue with his cell phone on vibrate waiting for the call. But Trump is going to be the candidate and it’s take it or leave it at this point. I don’t see how it benefits anybody to mount an insurgency at this late a date unless Mitt Romney usurps the Green Party candidate or something. What’s left to do?

Rantz: No. I expect some will try, and it’ll be dramatic. But it will fail and we’ll move forward with Trump as the nominee. They just don’t have the numbers to be successful.

How does this compare to past conventions?

Ross: I know people say that America seems to be in turmoil but in 1968 we had the third of a series of assassinations, cities had burned and students were closing down campuses. We were afraid about getting drafted. The country was a basket case then. We had a guy who turned out to be an outlaw as president. We went way beyond any kind of server. I look at this and see – a lot of people feel like they are in crisis but it was nothing like it was back then as far as I’m concerned.

Rantz: I’m only 34 and this is my first convention. I certainly don’t recall there being a convention with this much uncertainty as to the future of the Party. I think the future is more on the line with this one.

Ohio is an open-carry state. Do you plan to pack any heat?

Ross: If you’re talking about the iPhone, yes. I will carry it openly but in its protective case. I only take it out of the protective case in an emergency.

Rantz: I hope no one at the convention puts me in a position where they have to find out the answer to this question.

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