Should the 2016 Republican National Convention be held in Las Vegas (the front-runner among eight options), one Democratic group can't wait for it to begin. According to Politico, American Bridge will deploy "three dozen trackers with video cameras" covering "one end of the Strip to the other," with the aim of making sure what happens in Vegas appears in campaign ads back in politicians' home districts. Here is some advice for Republicans hoping to swing by.
Vegas' promotional video to earn the gig offers a number of selling points, including its vast experience hosting numerous other conventions and meetings — and its "531 places of worship" and "30 percent Hispanic population." Unmentioned: Lots of booze, easy access to entertainment of all maturity levels, and a lurid reputation that the city strives to uphold.
American Bridge already has a website up for its efforts: Sin City GOP. "In making their selection, Republicans would do well to remember that Las Vegas is already the city with the most cameras per capita of anywhere on the planet," the site taunts. "What's another two or three dozen American Bridge trackers added to the mix?" There's already a cottage industry of calling out Republican misbehavior at these things. Remove your normal social constraints and flood the city with social conservatives, and you can see why Democrats would be stoked.
I called Las Vegas to figure out how image-conscious Republicans could enjoy Vegas without drawing attention to themselves. Dawn Christensen at the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority indicated that she didn't know of any guidelines the city offered to visiting celebrities or positions of influence. She had one bit of advice: "I think certainly common sense goes a long way."
Kevin Leach, branch manager of Cypress Private Security, indicated that his company wasn't really the sort that would ensure peoples' privacy on the Strip. "Realistically, if you're talking about the Strip, you're talking about the hotels," he told me by phone. "The casinos have divisions" that deal with celebrities and high-rollers. So for a prominent politician, he'd "contact the casino and they would send a person from their private security team or metro police."
So we called a hotel; specifically, the Bellagio. And guess what! The Bellagio didn't really want to talk about it much either. But Gordon Absher, vice president of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, did give us a short statement. "Millions of businessmen and women transact billions of dollars in business at tens of thousands of conferences held here every year," Absher said. "We’re in the meeting and convention business, not the business of dirty political tricks." If you wanted to go to the Bellagio to perform dirty tricks — NO DICE. (Try the Watergate.)
We got the strong impression that the idea of people of prominence hopscotching the Strip with the expectation of privacy was a rarity. High-rollers hunker down in cordoned-off rooms; celebrities tools around in massive entourages. For those mid-level functionaries who scramble in their county committees for years in order to earn the right to attend the party convention, our advice would echo Christensen's: Don't be an idiot on the Strip. It seems like straightforward advice, but if Cops taught us anything, that advice is all-too-commonly ignored.