GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention

GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention
© Getty Images

The 2020 Republican National Convention was generally well-received by GOP lobbyists on K Street who hope the appeals to suburban women, minorities and swing states will pay off in November and translate into wins for their clients.

Republican lobbyists said that even with the unconventional format, speeches by Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottScott: 'There is hope' for police reform bill Sunday shows preview: Bipartisan infrastructure talks drag on; Democrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event MORE (R-S.C.), former U.N. Ambassador Nikki HaleyNikki HaleyWill Pence primary Trump — and win? Noem to travel to South Carolina for early voting event Poll: Trump leads 2024 GOP primary trailed by Pence, DeSantis MORE and everyday Americans helped broaden the party’s appeal beyond the traditional base.

Alex Vogel, CEO of The Vogel Group, said he was surprised at how effectively the convention balanced messaging to Trump’s base with efforts to win back suburban women and attract minorities.


“The assumption from a lot of Democratic strategists is that it would be an all-base election effort – and leave the middle and weak spots to languish. Instead, they have gone right at suburban women and minority support,” he said.

Heading into the GOP convention, many Republicans lobbyists said they were expecting another “Trump show,” without much of an attempt to try to appeal to constituents beyond the president’s hardcore base.

“The participants collectively spoke to a variety of key constituencies – working people, suburban women, African Americans,” said Marc Lampkin, chair of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck LLP government relation practice and a Trump donor.

Several speakers, including Pastor Jerome Smith, former NFL star Herschel Walker and criminal justice reform advocate Alice Johnson, discussed race and the Trump agenda in an appeal to Black Americans.

The First Step Act, which Trump signed into law in December 2018 to help reform the criminal justice system, was also praised throughout the week.

The convention also sought to win back support from suburban women, with a slate of women from the Trump administration giving personal testimonials about their interactions with the president.


“I thought the convention was a huge success. I thought it hit on all cylinders. It spoke to the American people at every level,” Lampkin said.

The convention, originally planned as an in-person event for Charlotte, N.C., was first delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic and then split between Charlotte and Washington. Democrats held their convention entirely online the previous week.

“Both sides did a pretty good job with their conventions under some extraordinary circumstances, but it was a really good week for Republicans,” said Scott Mason, senior policy adviser at Holland & Knight LLP.

Mason led efforts to secure congressional endorsements for Trump’s 2016 campaign and later worked on the transition team.

Trump’s acceptance speech on Thursday was met with critics attacking him for its dark threats, flat delivery, and the lack of social distancing and masks among attendees at the White House.

But GOP lobbyists said they thought it struck the right tone.

“The president’s speech seemed more State of the Union than convention, and had all 23 flavors of a Dr. Pepper – it covered everything from the administration’s accomplishments to its aspirations. But it hit on the key themes of the week – America’s heroes, promise, opportunity and greatness,” Mason said.

“It’s a tough speech to give, but he did a great job and painted a clear difference in the current visions of each party, and where they see America headed,” Mason added.