Report From The Floor: First Venture From The GOP ‘Secure Zone’


Dr. Ben Carson speaks during Day 2 of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Photo: Brian Levine.

By Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine.

As with most endeavors, the exciting and high intensity portions – the actual attendance at the Republic National Convention – is intense. The more mundane procedures, such as communications and logistics, are just as important.

As for the latter…

The RNC provided us with an app for our smart phones to keep track of convention speakers and other information. Most of the New Jersey delegation at the RNC is staying at the same hotel. Breakfast is provided for us each morning. At the conclusion of breakfast, around 9:00 AM, we are all given a briefing about the proceedings and time frames for the day, including when buses will go to and from our venue, as well as any side trips (such as to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) that delegates may attend. A guest speaker addresses us at that time, too.

This morning, the person presenting to us was Lawrence Kudlow, a host of a radio program and the TV show “The Kudlow Report,” which formerly appeared on CNBC. He used to live and work in New Jersey. In addition, each morning we pick up our daily passes, which give us access to the Quicken Loans arena, known as “The Q.”

Yesterday, I decided to see how wide the secure perimeter extends around The Q. It extends for several square blocks, including the baseball field for the Cleveland Indians. Inside the perimeter, but outside in the open air, there are vendors before and during the convention activities. Most merchandise is GOP-related, but there are general items, too. When I am away from home a few days, as is the case now, I scope out T-shirts and miscellany that I can bring back home to my daughters – a small consolation for their Dad being away on a “business trip” for several days.


Somerset County Freeholder Brian Levine.

This time, there were Secret Service agents checking us as we walked into the secured area. They, too, they were very friendly. While walking through the metal detector, I set off the alarm. When I spread my arms so that the agent could wave the metal-detector-wand over me, I (accidentally, of course) smacked his fellow agent in the next line. I was glad they laughed it off and told me it was OK instead of wrestling me to the ground. I have not met a sour official since I arrived.

From my seat, the Trump family sits below me, so I was able to observe people coming to visit or pass by them, including Newt Gingrich, Gov. Pence, Scott Baio, numerous politicians, and (believe it or not) Don King.

After the convention ended Tuesday, the New Jersey and New York delegation had a joint dessert party in Cleveland. That was the first time I left the secure perimeter while I was in downtown Cleveland. We were advised that it may be wise to abstain from wearing our credentials while in the city for security reasons.

As I walked through downtown Cleveland, I noticed the city was active and beautiful. We found our destination with the help of provided directions and our GPS. Buses were provided so that we could make our way back to our hotel.

It was interesting to speak to our colleagues from New York at the reception. Some things never change: I had to explain to them, as I do to most new Jerseyans, what a “Freeholder” is (my usually explanation is “County government” and “It is like the Mayor and Council for the County). Some things do not change –until we change the name “Freeholder.”

Editor’s Note: Freeholder Levine is an alternate delegate for New Jersey. He will be supplying us with his observations of the Republican National Convention.

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