Parscale’s Twitter Attack Exposes Divisions Over Hosting 2020 GOP National Convention

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Eduardu Muñoz Alvarez / AFP / Getty Images

Brad Parscale is President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election campaign manager.

Brad Parscale’s two-day Twitter fusillade against San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg has highlighted a prickly conundrum facing City officials and local business and civic leaders: Would the potential economic gains of hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention be worth the costs in dollars, likely protests, and political capital?

As City staff work on a cost-benefit analysis, City, business, and civic leaders say the overall calculus requires a nuanced examination of social, cultural, and political considerations beyond dollars.

But the relentless Twitter campaign on Wednesday and Thursday by Parscale, President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign manager, also has exposed a tense behind-the-scenes blame game, with charges and countercharges flying about precisely what happened at a private meeting March 23 called here to discuss a possible convention bid. And it has raised questions about Nirenberg’s statement in a Monday memo to City Council “that the GOP opted not to pursue a bid from San Antonio” after that meeting.

Nirenberg made that statement in an April 23 memo to Council in which he reported having instructed City Manager Sheryl Sculley “at the earliest possible date” to provide a briefing so Council could vote on whether to submit a bid to host the Republicans’ nominating convention.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg speaks out against Fire Fighters Association President Chris Steele.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

“I want to make you aware of an opportunity for San Antonio to host a national political convention,” Nirenberg wrote in the memo. He explained that he had initially learned about the opportunity a month earlier.

“I was prepared to inform City Council about this opportunity during its executive session on March 28. However, prior to that date, I was informed that the GOP opted not to pursue a bid from San Antonio. As such, no further discussions occurred.”

Several participants in or with knowledge of the March meeting told the Rivard Report that they were perplexed by that claim. “The RNC does not lose interest. That just doesn’t happen,” one source said. “They will tell you … if you do not qualify – not enough hotel rooms, or not a large enough airport.

“But clearly San Antonio was beyond that phase. I don’t understand [Nirenberg’s] statement that there was lost interest. When you submit a bid, it needs to be a united community effort. So, if the mayor or City Council are not a part of the bid, don’t waste your time bidding.”

In a lengthy telephone interview Thursday afternoon, Nirenberg stood by his statement in the memo. Although he declined to name names, he said some local Republicans – not Republican National Committee members – informed him and Sheryl Sculley through former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger a few days after the March 23 meeting they were not interested in pursuing a bid for the convention.

But the source who was in the meeting said the mayor is parsing words. “This is black and white. There’s nothing grey in here. It’s not that we lost interest. The RNC made it very clear that if you don’t have the support of the local governmental entity – in this case the City of San Antonio –  your bid will not be successful.”

Participants at the March meeting included Nirenberg; Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff; his son, Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff; Hardberger; several local chambers of commerce executives; and representatives of the Republican National Committee, including Massachusetts National Committeeman Ron Kaufman, a longtime party operative.

Several people who attended the meeting said Kaufman discussed how the bidding process typically proceeds, then talked about the potential costs: San Antonio’s host committee – not the City itself – would be required to raise between $60 million and $65 million to help produce the convention.

Kaufman also told participants that Congress would provide $50 million in federal funds to help cover security costs. (It does that for both national party conventions.) And he cited studies showing the city could reap $200 million in economic benefits from the tens of thousands of people, including an expected 15,000 members of the media, who attend the nearly week-long event.

Kaufman reportedly then asked participants for their thoughts on the pros and cons of hosting the convention.

Sources said that when he turned to Hardberger, the former mayor said he was initially open to the idea of San Antonio hosting the Republican convention. “However, upon deeper thought and reflection, I am now opposed to it,” a source quoted Hardberger as saying.

“You could tell that it was not the Hardberger that we normally see. He was visibly agitated,” the source said.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Former San Antonio Mayor Phil Hardberger.

In a telephone interview Thursday, Hardberger confirmed that those characterizations were accurate, adding that he opposes being the host city for one reason: Trump.

“When you start talking about two-thirds of the citizens of our town being murderers and rapists and lazy, it’s offensive,” Hardberger said, referring to statements Trump made on the campaign trail in 2016 about illegal immigrants from Mexico. “Certainly, the drumbeat of hate that President Trump has shown to Hispanics, not just on one occasion, but everything, the building of the wall, taking down of NAFTA … does not make him a welcome guest in my book. I didn’t think it was a very good fit for him to come here.”

Hardberger, a Democrat, said that he wouldn’t hesitate to host a Republican convention “under ordinary circumstances … if you had the Bushes coming, it’d be a lovefest. But that’s not the situation we have here.”

Following Hardberger’s comments during the March 23 meeting, sources said that Kaufman then turned to Nirenberg to ask whether he and the City would support a bid. Two sources described Nirenberg as declining to respond to the question.

Nirenberg called the description “absolutely not true.”

“I asked questions about the costs, what would be required of the City, in terms of subsidy, and what was to be raised by the community,” he said. “And then I talked about the fact that this would have to be a conversation among the Council, that it’s a lot of resources required by the City, and it’s more than just a business decision in terms of understanding the impacts, that would we would be objective, and the next step for me would be, we take it to Council.”

Nirenberg acknowledged that the economics of hosting a convention “are very compelling. However, I am concerned about how the community would react and the extremely large subsidy and the divisiveness on both sides of the political aisles.”

In an interview with the Rivard Report Thursday morning, Parscale said San Antonio would make an excellent convention host city, emphasizing that his interest is personal since he worked in the city for decades and graduated from Trinity University.

“Spending 20 years in the downtown business community, it is obvious that San Antonio has built itself into Convention City, USA, with a world-class convention center, a large stadium in downtown walking distance, one of the nation’s largest footprints of hotel rooms, and a downtown perfectly designed for a convention takeover,” Parscale said.

Iris Dimmick / Rivard Report

The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center during the 2016 PAX South gamers convention.

He added: “And I wish that weak-kneed Ron could make a decisive decision that helps the income and prosperity of all San Antonians.”

Nirenberg declined to respond to any of Parscale’s tweets.

Like Hardberger, he said the decision requires evaluating the social, political, and cultural characteristics of a city that is nearly two-thirds Latino – a city that has felt under siege by Trump’s brusque and oft-repeated criticisms of Latinos and immigrants, Mexico, NAFTA, and the proposed wall on the border between Mexico and the U.S.

Hardberger worries that widespread demonstrations – likely at a time of increasing political divisiveness – could not only cost the city money but mar its image, depending on the response.

“All you have to do is remember what happened in 1968 in Chicago, where the lasting images were of police beating demonstrators,” Hardberger said. “That did not help the image of Chicago. I don’t think it brought them a lot of fame.

“You want to welcome guests who you feel will enhance your city, and project the image you want San Antonio to have. … But when you have someone coming who has preached hate, it is likely you will have demonstrations, and it is likely that could be very extensive.”

Meanwhile, as a shepherd of sorts for cities that bid on GOP conventions, Kaufman said that San Antonio has time to submit a bid, and that it should carefully consider the economic benefits that hosting one of the two national political parties brings.

“We don’t have a deadline, we have timelines. We’re earlier than normal with our timelines. … If San Antonio really wants the bid, of course [they can submit.]”

Regarding Parscale’s intense interest, Kaufman said the former San Antonio-based digital data and media specialist is not acting on behalf of either the White House or Trump’s re-election campaign.

“He just loves San Antonio. I think he honestly thinks the city should bid. I think that’s where he’s coming from,” he said.

Nirenberg said Thursday that he told Kaufman that the City “will be objective in considering a bid.”

Although careful to remain neutral on whether San Antonio ultimately bids on the RNC convention, Kaufman did say this: “I hope people think it through carefully. If you think Final Four is a big thing, it pales” aside a national political party nominating convention.


This story was originally published on April 26. 

31 thoughts on “Parscale’s Twitter Attack Exposes Divisions Over Hosting 2020 GOP National Convention

  1. I agree with Hardberger. Parscale’s and Trump’s insults and culture don’t belong in San Antonio. We also don’t want our association with Trump ending like so many of his associates – Cohen, Jackson, Pruitt, Bannon, Flynn, Tillerson, Manafort, Gates, McCaster, Sessions, Price etc. We can do better and make a stronger statement by not submitting a bid and making noise about it.

    • I totally agree. It would show a disrespect for our Hispanic community that is not worth any economic gain. And I remember Chicago 1968. Not worth it!

      • Not just for Hispanics, San Antonio’s culture encompasses all skin colors. Most entrenched San Antonian’s eat Tacos, know a little Tex-Mex, Fiesta, and are warm people.

  2. It seems obtuse to assume that because someone is Latino they (1) don’t like the president, and (2) they wouldn’t be supportive of hosting the Republican National Convention (RNC). Moreover, it seems wrong to assume that San Antonio residents would be so offended as to cause protests that result in violence. Not a real vote of confidence from our local representatives. The RNC is not solely about nominating their presidential candidate. The RNC would bring thought leaders of their party to San Antonio; which does not often occur. It would be an opportunity to hear ideas that are not often discussed or promoted in San Antonio. Although there may be a majority of people in San Antonio who disagree with the President, this seems like a great opportunity to show the world how “inclusive” San Antonio truly is. It seems wrong the way this situation was handled, and not placing a bid is embarrassing.

    • I agree, we need to submit a bid. But this kind of event isn’t like hosting a final four, it will bring very aggressive professional paid protesters from around the country and world (probably even funded by other countries) who will be looking to cause trouble. There will be militias, white supremasists walking around town, probably some of the the same groups from Charlottesville (holding torch rallies in front of the Alamo) some with assault rifles (probably even on the riverwalk) and teenagers who don’t really understand the 2nd amendment looking to get under each other’s skin. Just picture sitting at Casa Rio with your children, and groups of protesters are screaming at one another, and police can’t stop them from being obnoxious because they have the right to be. Not sure how conventioneers will enjoy themselves while groups are fighting and rioting all over downtown, which by the way is likely to run hourly on national and international TV. This could very easily get out of hand. We’ll likely have protesters who are not just looking to state their points of view but to cause disruption, probably even try to ignite riots, where people actually get hurt. I think the city should definitely needs to ask the RNC, not just Congress, for an additional 30 to 40 million dollars for security, and also inform the RNC that our accepting the bid would be contingent upon the President signing a pledge not incite riots with hateful speech.

    • I totally agree with you. To say that 2/3 of San Antonio is upset and offended by Trump statements on illegals is extremely offensive to me. I did not know that hardberger knows me so well that he’s doing it for my own good, and to keep us from rioting in the streets like chicago… wow what an opportunity wasted, by people that no us offened, riot prone hispanics…

  3. The City of San Antonio Leaders firmly believe that all Latino and Black Voters are democrat and are not free or smart enough to make their own decisions and that they need to tow their Party Line. If it was the DNC making the request, they would be drooling and it would be front page news all over the Republican State of Texas.

    • There’s an old adage that says, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” If you are going around ascribing racist assumptions to city leaders, it probably says more about your own views toward Black and Latino voters than it does about anyone who attended this meeting.

      • Andy, I always enjoy reading your comebacks on what you deem racist remarks by name calling and insulting their point of view. YOU accomplish nothing. Who is the racist here?

  4. Any association with the current manifestation of the Republican party would be entirely negative for our city. Bad enough, Texas has backwards cretins in our state legislature (Abbot, Patrick, etc.). The last thing San Antonio needs is to be associated with the lack of decency and honesty currently exhibited by the scandal-ridden laughing stock remains of what was once was an honorable political party. Today, the RNC is the new carny trash. We are better than that.
    And Mr. Parscale is a huge part of this. I remember hearing Brad bragging that he had Facebook employees camped out in his propaganda headquarters for Mr. Trump’s election campaign in his office off Broadway.

  5. The Republicans had their convention in Cleveland in 2016. Most people probably don’t remember that it was held there. I have read nothing about how 1) everyone is scampering to be in Cleveland because the city hosted a national convention, or 2) Cleveland has become a magnet for major conventions because it hosted the national convention. Furthermore, if Parscale loves this city so much, why did he move away from it? I’m wondering: Could the Republicans be having trouble finding ANY cities that want to bid on hosting their next nominating convention?

  6. Parscale is like the perennial bad penny that keeps coming back to ruin your day. Hey Brad – Your new home, Miami, can’t wait to host all your Trump followers! What’s the problem? Have it there, win/win! (You’re forcing San Antonio to throw you a party where you’re not invited, not wanted and not welcome.)

  7. Let’s let cooler heads prevail. The National GOP Convention would be a good thing for San Antonio even though it’s not as big as the Texas GOP Convention being held here in a couple of months.

  8. Parscale left SA citing that SA had limited airline access to major market cities. The Russian mob needs many quick & discreet options for routing in & out of any city where a large number of them meet. Florida or NYC would be a better bet…you know, where Parscale lives, and they operate out of now. Think of Parscale as a Michael Cohen fixer, only with digital data, and a militia beard.

  9. Remember, please, that Mr Parscale’s comments come from a hired gun. Bullets from a hired gun come with plenty of spin.

  10. Petty politics from Phil as usual. What an absolute disgrace he and the Mayor have shown themselves to be. Partisanship and a wish to censor the opposing political party has cost San Antonio a chance to host a major, very high profile convention of this type. The controlling Democratics in power condemn any thought other than their own and once again slander the legal working Hispanic American citizens with the illegals’ activities and misquotes PRESIDENT Trump’s words. As a Hispanic, it is absolutely sickening to constantly see racist leftists constantly lump me in with illegals who shouldn’t be here to begin with. And now the dumb Mayor is citing a worry of offending anyone as a valid bs reason to not host a convention. How terrifying that can be used to shutdown anything that is not the “accepted politically correct school of thought”. There is absolutely no overall negative reason to hosting the convention. A concern about offending is not a valid reason. To say it is disrespecting the entire half of Americans who legally elected Donald Trump as President.

    • President Trumps statements against 2/3 of the citizens of San Antonio? Apparently, Phil Hardberger believes all “hispanics” in San Antonio are illegal? Hmmm I was born here, raised by two Legal Immigrants from Mexico. Typical statements from a Democrat. Democrats like Hardberger and Nuremberg are the main reason I turned away from the democratic party. They twist a spin on everything and repeat it over and over till it’s accepted as truth. Sadly, many Hispanics believe their lies.

    • RG… I am Hispanic and.a proud Republican. The decision not to bid on the RNC convention doesn’t surprise me , I was hoping that San Antonio was was open minded enough to allow other than Democrats to thrive in this city. I’ve also realized that although Hardberger no longer is officially the mayor , he still carries a “big stick”of “Influence” even more than Nurinberg. When Hardberger said no on the RNC, Nurinberg didn’t want to go againt “Papa Hardberger”. Hardberger even chose the real Mayor of San Antonio….City manager/Mayor Scully.

  11. I would be offended. As a lifelong resident, with a Hispanic mother… and for many other reasons… I would not welcome the likes of Trump or Parscale, who is proving more and more to have colluded in Trump’s criminal activities in his quest for the White House. We don’t need the likes of them. Ron and Phil are right on, and I support them.

  12. San Antonio has clearly become a little slice of California in south Texas.

    I agree with the idea that the city would be falling all over itself if the DNC came knocking. It will be very interesting to see how that decision plays out should the offer be extended.

    Don’t think for an instant that we conservatives would let it stand.

  13. Trump referred to those who commit crimes and depend on the free ride they expect from the US Government. I do not recall him referring to anyone as lazy. Perhaps that is Hardberger felt. But, it appears that Hardberger is saying that two-thirds of the citizens of this town are illegal immigrants. How ignorant but still expected from such an establishment Democrat. For someone to say that he misspoke, I do not buy it.

    I do not even know why reporters, even those whose stories are published here, will constantly find former officials to seek comment, but not challenge them on their responses.

  14. If Parscale and his rich buddies want to host the GOP coronation, let them plan and pay for it. All of it. The city shouldn’t have to beg for, or devote one taxpayer penny to, a political convention. The economic benefits of such events are often overstated and in fact marginal. There is no reason the city should have to devote its resources to the benefit of a private political entity that can easily foot the bill on its own. Where is the much-vaunted Republican self-reliance?
    (For the record, if the Democrats came hat in hand asking for help staging a convention here, I would likewise hope the city would tell them to get out.)

  15. The story to pursue isn’t a local one based on what happened when and who said what. It’s to see if ANY cities other than Charlotte have submitted bids for the GOP convention. My bet is that no one has and that this local kerfluffle (which includes Parscale saying we “still have time” to submit a bid meaning the deadline is near) is all an effort by Parscale and the GOP to avoid the embarrassment of having the country learn that no one wants to host them except for Charlotte.

  16. How did it come to pass that the powers that be in SA allowed the Texas Republican Party to hold their State Convention this year in San Antonio?

  17. I can’t believe we are talking about someone’s personal grooming habits. And the mean thing some guy said on The Twitter. Red or Blue the money any convention brings to SATX is GREEN!

    I support making a plan to bring ANY large convention to our fair city. Everyone should be welcome to visit San Antonio and enjoy our attractions.

    I’m sorry Mr. Parscale moved his business and tax dollars to another state. If he is so interested in using the world-class facilities in our city, why doesn’t he bring some of his money back here and prove his interest?

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