Top Republican officials are describing their choice of Cleveland to host the party's 2016 convention as a business decision that GOP Chairman Reince Priebus said is all about logistics, not politics. But there are clear political benefits to picking Cleveland even if the chairman can't acknowledge them.
That has nothing to do with the now thoroughly discredited notion that bringing your convention to a pivotal state in the summer somehow delivers its electoral votes in the fall. That just doesn't happen. A candidate doesn't win because of a convention. But he can lose an election because of a bad convention. And in choosing Cleveland over the other finalist, Dallas, the GOP has avoided pitfalls that could have cost them dearly. If Republicans had gone to Dallas to pick their nominee, that nominee would have spent much of the four-day gathering running away from images of the party that would have been decidedly unhelpful to his post-convention task of broadening his appeal beyond just the Republican core.
The face of a Dallas convention, without much doubt, would have been Texas firebrand and Tea Party darling Sen. Ted Cruz. It would have been Cruz in prime time, Cruz on the morning shows, Cruz at the delegation lunches, Cruz on speed-dial for the network bookers 24/7. Of course, he would have to share some of the spotlight with his fellow Texans Republicans. Like the architects of the state party platform who last month added a plank embracing reparative therapy for gays, the controversial psychological treatments that are supposed to help people go straight. And don't forget the platform's tougher language on border issues and immigration. At a time when the Latino vote is becoming more critical in presidential elections, a Dallas convention would have a four-day focus on the GOP's less-than-welcoming attitude toward Hispanics.