After Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the RNC sprinted into action. The task at hand -- turning Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena into a national convention hall – one Republicans and the presumptive nominee, a man with opulent tastes can be proud of. In any other election year, organizers could count on six to eight weeks for the build out, but this year, with the championship streak broken, there’s only 31 days to transform 780,000 square feet. This is an incredible feat for sure, but one so important for a party needing to make a big impression with voters and the world watching on TV.
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The planning for this convention started over two years ago. Once Cleveland was selected, the task of securing hotel rooms and how to get delegates safely in and out of the arena became a reality. Sara Armstrong, Vice President of the Republican National Commmittee, moved here almost a year ago and began assembling a team to figure out every last detail. “We are on schedule. It is a tight time frame, but we are on schedule. We have daily production meetings to make sure that we are on time.”
None of this comes cheap. The city’s host committee, which won the bid for Cleveland, is responsible for raising 64 million dollars for the four day event. Based on the RNC’s last two stops, Cleveland hopes to see over a 200 million dollar return on their investment. But much of this economic boost hinges on everything coming off without a hitch.
Having worked on the cyber security team for the party’s past three conventions, Max Everett is now in charge of making sure hackers don’t steal the show. Everett explains, “There’s a way, there’s always a way in. So, I can’t keep everybody out. But what I can do is, I can segment my network, I can detect what they’re doing and I can be ready to react to that and so that’s why we want to have people who have done this for a living, who do this every day for major companies across the US.” The convention’s cyber security team is a dream team of IT experts borrowed from computer giants like Cisco, Microsoft and others.
Hackers are not the only security threat at play. Following the massacre of five Dallas police officers, security concerns are heightened. On Tuesday, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams stressed that the department’s top priority is keeping everyone safe and that includes protestors, politicians and anyone visiting the city. During a press conference he said, “We’ve had a challenging but effective planning process,” adding, “It is business as usual in an unusual manner.”
Despite safety concerns, Armstrong is certain that the convention satisfy voters, “The Trump campaign definitely wants to make it, you know, special to our candidate and he has a very specific way he would like to handle the program. We still have to conduct the business of the convention, which is nominating our candidate. So that will be all very traditional, but I think that he’ll have a few wonderful speakers that will be a surprise for the audience.”
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Don’t miss FOX Business Network’s coverage of the convention. Plus, get up-to-the-minute coverage on FOXbusiness.com.