In conversations with delegates to the Republican National Convention this week in Cleveland, Laguna Beach radio station host Jim Kennedy says he’s picking up insights about the GOP, its future and what they think about their presidential nominee, Donald Trump.
Kennedy, who has hosted a weekly political talk show on KX 93.5 for four years, is attending the convention to provide analysis for another outlet, the daily Chad Benson talk-radio show. The program is one of 26 syndicated by the conservative Radio American Network, based in Arlington, Va.
He’s intentionally avoiding the norovirus-stricken California delegation, comprised of about 700 people, 334 delegates and alternates and that many more significant others. Due to its size, the group is staying in Sandusky, Ohio, and commuting 50 miles to the convention by bus. Some are quarantined to their hotel rooms, said Kennedy, who attended the state’s Republican party convention as an official delegate from Orange County earlier this year.
Instead, he’s trying to absorb the zeitgeist of his first national political convention by button-holing other delegates on the floor of the arena.
One from Massachusetts supported Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s campaign for the GOP nomination and despises Trump, Kennedy said. According to this delegate, who Kennedy didn’t identify, Trump’s conservative running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, “can’t wipe out the sins of Donald Trump.”
Another delegate from Florida, a fan of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, told Kennedy he would vote for Trump out of loyalty to the party.
A third convention delegate from Ohio described his disappointment over the actions of the state’s governor, John Kasich, another unsuccessful GOP candidate who boycotted the convention in his home state. “That’s unprecedented,” Kennedy said, reporting that Kasich is nevertheless taking advantage of the Republican swarm to hold events outside the convention.
As a measure of the division that remains within the party over Trump’s nomination, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani received more applause than did the vote count that put Trump over the top, Kennedy observed. “There is not 100 percent enthusiasm for Trump,” he said, pointing out that 600 or 700 delegates remain bound to other candidates.
“It’s the white privilege convention,” said Kennedy, half-joking, pointing out that just 80 Republican delegates or 3 percent of the total are African-American. He said the conventioneers reflect the appeal of the GOP’s presidential nominee among white voters and fails to reflect the diversity of the nation.
Kennedy predicts similar circumstances at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia next week, perhaps over-represented with minority delegates compared to the nation’s population, but a lack of unity over the presumptive nominee, Hillary Clinton, among still-loyal supporters of Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator.
“Both parties have the same problem; bringing the disaffected back into the process,” said Kennedy, an issue he blames in part on congressional districts devised as safe havens for incumbents. With so few toss-up seats, incumbents like 13-term Representative Dana Rohrabacher, of Huntington Beach, “don’t need to do outreach,” he said.
Kennedy, a fan of talk-show host Chad Benson, volunteered to provide live analysis for the show from the second Republican candidate debate held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley last October. He’s been sending feeds to the program throughout the campaign season and was asked to continue in Cleveland, said Kennedy, a technology consultant who lives in Irvine.
Expect to hear more personal observations about the convention on Sunday on Kennedy’s show, “Laguna Roundtable,” which airs at 8 a.m. on the FM station.
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