Sophomore Blake Lincoln attended the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, July 18-21. He went with his brother, sixth-grader Austin, and his mother. The Democratic National Convention is now taking place (July 25-28) in Philadelphia.
Q: Why did you decide to go?
A: We originally made the plans when we thought it was going to be a contested convention (which occurs when no single candidate has secured the majority of the delegates) back in March. (When we got our tickets), we didn’t even have access to the convention hall, but somebody we knew who helped write the speeches for the speakers was able to get us passes for all four days.
Q: What was the overall experience like?
A: It was something! We weren’t there when they originally opened the convention, but we were there for the evening sessions, and we watched the roll call (when each state announced the number of delegates pledged to a candidate). It was a good experience and a lot of fun.
You get to see everything, and it’s way different than seeing it on TV because you see everybody’s reactions, and you see what they want to filter out. On TV there were clips of either the craziest or the most ridiculous people, showing that the party was disunified and chaotic. They filtered out the good people who were there just to support the party.
Q: When was roll call held, and what happens during it?
A: It was on Tuesday, and they would call the convention to order, and the chairman, Paul Ryan, would announce that they’re doing the roll call, and they would invite the secretaries of the convention up. They (the secretaries) would call a state, like “Alabama, you have this many votes.” Then, they (the state) would report their call.
However, all the stuff about Never Trump got the RNC worried, so when they announced a state, they had to announce how many (delegates) were pledged to each candidate. At the very end, you would see them report the votes they already said. For example, when they called Alabama, all the votes went to Donald Trump because that’s what the rule said: they had to pledge to Donald Trump. So they said, “Okay, all your delegates go to Donald Trump.”
But when they called Alaska, there’s a rule in the state party that says that if there’s only one candidate left running for president, all the Alaskan delegates have to go to (him/her). Well, the Alaskan delegation decided to vote with the people the state had voted for on Super Tuesday, where (Ted) Cruz had won. But as they reported those votes, you would see the secretary say, “According to the rules of this convention, Donald Trump 28 Alaska.”
So you would see the people at the top overruling what the states had reported based on the rules just because they were so worried about Never Trump people freaking out.
Q: Which speakers did you get a chance to hear?
A: I missed Donald Trump Jr., but we saw pretty much all the speakers otherwise. On the first night, we got seats in the rafters, but the rest of the nights we actually got to go down pretty much on the floor – it wasn’t on the floor but it was right next to it – so we had a better view of the stage.
I liked former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. He talked about security and radical Islamic terrorism. He made it clear that he didn’t say all of Islam or most of Islam but radical Islam because a lot of people think that Republicans are racist, which is not true. And then you had Sheriff (David) Clarke of Milwaukee; he gave a good speech. You had the “Lone Survivor” guy (Marcus Luttrell) who was really cool. That was just the first night. I don’t remember anyone on the second night.
The third night you had Ted Cruz, who actually gave a really good speech until he didn’t endorse (Trump); then everybody went crazy. You had Marco Rubio who did a nice satellite interview. Mike Pence made a good speech and (so did) Laura Ingraham. She talked about how the senators weren’t uniting. She basically said that you need to support your pledge to support the candidate. She is awesome. I love her. And Donald Trump made a really good speech on the final night, too.
Q: Were you at the convention for the entire day? What was the schedule for the convention?
A: No. We would probably sleep in until around 10 or 11 (a.m.).
On Tuesday it started around 5 (p.m.), and on Wednesday and Thursday they started around 7:30 (p.m.). We usually didn’t get to the hotel until around 12:30 (a.m.).
Q: Why didn’t your dad go with you to the convention?
A: He is more of a Libertarian than a Republican.
Q: Did you see any protests?
A: There was only one protest outside of the convention halls. It wasn’t Black Lives Matter or anti-Trump; it was Christians. There were maybe 100 people protesting, which is nothing like the 2000 people in Philadelphia now. People were worried about protesters and the anti-
Trump sentiment. There were police, Secret Service and the California Highway Patrol.
Q: What was your favorite part?
A: There were two parts I liked: the roll call of the states and when New York threw Donald Trump over the top with the delegate count. That was really cool to see because they (played the) “New York, New York,” music and everybody was cheering and celebrating, so that was good fun. And then the balloon drop at the very end; that was really cool.
Q: Was there anything you didn’t like about the convention?
A: Honestly, I think it went really well. The one thing I would change (is the) media coverage. It has been completely unfair to the Republican Convention, and here’s why: everybody was freaked out that the Never Trump people were going to freak out, and there were only two incidents.
There was the first day, when the Colorado people walked out because they didn’t get their rules right and couldn’t unbind themselves. Then there was the Cruz thing (where Cruz was invited to speak but didn’t let anyone look at his speech. At the end of his speech he didn’t endorse Trump, so everybody got mad.) But they (the media) called it (the convention) complete chaos and said the party is falling apart.
What you now see in the Democratic Convention is 45 percent of their delegates along with the protesters outside. Their party is falling apart, but they (the media) are saying it’s nothing.
So I would change the media coverage and make it unbiased because it was very biased. I was there; it was not a chaotic mess.
—By Allison Zhang