The Republican Party of Texas (RPT) is off to a rocky start with its virtual convention this week. Though the party has worked on putting together a state convention for three years, the coronavirus changed things up at the last minute. Instead of the usual large, in-person convention, it is now a virtual convention. When the convention tried to open Thursday, things did not go smoothly.
The RPT planned to stream the virtual convention on its Facebook page and on YouTube beginning at 9:00 a.m. After problems with electronic credentialing of delegates were worked out, the chairman gaveled in the convention at 1:47 p.m., but it wasn’t the live convention, it was to run the pre-recorded speeches by elected officials. Governor Abbott delivered a strong response to critics of his handling of the coronavirus outbreak in Texas and reminded his audience that everyone must pull together and re-elect President Trump in November. The governor has been censured by a number of county Republican parties in recent weeks for executive overreach in fighting the coronavirus, though none of the resolutions coming out of county parties made it through the convention’s preliminary platform process.
Turning to the politics that it is the real work of the convention, Abbott said, “Now, I know there are issues that we may differ on. But I also know there is so much that we agree on — things like beating Joe Biden and reelecting Donald Trump.”
“Joe Biden he may be hiding in his basement somewhere, but we know exactly what his vision for America is,” Abbott said. “Joe Biden and the Democrats, they want to cancel conservative speech. They want to grab your guns and tax your churches. They want to dismantle the greatest economy the world has ever known.”
Abbott urged Republicans to unite around the common goal of returning Trump to the White House.
“We must work together to seize this defining moment in our history. We must save our nation from the grips of socialism and ensure that we remain one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all,” he said.
State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, an early Trump supporter, spoke to the convention by pre-recorded message after the governor. His remarks showed the strain between members of the party over how best to manage the coronavirus outbreak and its current spike in Texas. His remarks were recorded at the Alamo. Giddy-up.
“Will we defend our freedoms with the same fervor and commitment as those who in 1836 crossed over a line in the sand drawn by a sword just a few yards from where I now stand?” Miller asked. “Or will we be timid souls and allow an invisible virus, and the response to it, to erode our freedoms, our liberty and our independence?”
During an interview with a Houston television station, Governor Abbott reassured viewers that there will be no second shutdown of the state. Just last week he threatened to go back to full shutdown mode if the spike in coronavirus cases wasn’t brought under control. His message now is that people should ignore the rumors and stop panicking.
“Let me tell you, there is no shutdown coming,” he told KRIV-TV in Houston.
Abbott pointed to measures he’s taken in recent weeks, including a statewide mask mandate and an order shutting down bars, to slow the spread of the virus. It will take a few weeks to see a reversal in coronavirus case surges, he said.
He has repeatedly stressed this week that, if people wear masks, he’ll be able to avoid shutting down the state. On Wednesday, he told KPRC-TV in Houston that it seems like people ask him about a shutdown “like a thousand times a day.”
“People are panicking, thinking I’m about to shut down Texas again,” he said. “The answer is no. That is not the goal. I’ve been abundantly clear.”
“We are certainly not out of the woods yet, but this could be a glimmer of hope,” Abbott said of the recent hospitalization numbers. “But the only way we can avoid a shutdown is if we do get everybody buying into this process of wearing a face mask.”
Texas Democrats would like nothing more than for Abbott to shut down the state again. The Texas economy would likely not easily survive a second lockdown and the national economy depends on the Texas economy as an economic engine. Democrats in Texas and nationally have shown their cards – the country should remain in lockdown mode as long as possible, certainly until Election Day. It’s all about politics, not public health policy.
“Governor Abbott should start listening to public health officials and members of his own coronavirus taskforce before he makes blanket claims,” Abhi Rahman, a state party spokesperson, said in an email. “After experiencing record deaths today and over 10,000 new cases, it’s shocking that Abbott continues to double down on his failed policies and positions.”
We see you, Democrats.
Since technical difficulties got in the way of the RPT conducting business Thursday, the chairman agreed with delegates that the convention will not gavel in again until Saturday morning. Friday will be used as a training day in hopes of everything going smoother by Saturday. He got in a shot at Houston Mayor Turner, too.
“So yes, I feel much more comfortable with committing to a Saturday morning start time and knowing we’ve got all day tomorrow to make sure we get this done, we get it done right, we get it tested, we get it trained for our folks, so that the important parts of the convention experience, the parts where they debate, and where delegates provide their input and that that input changes and improves our end product, that’s what I want to have happen, and I want them to to able to focus on that, and right now, that has been overshadowed by the uncertainty caused by the (Houston) mayor (Sylvester Turner), caused by the coronavirus, caused by all the things that we’ve had to deal with, and I can appreciate the dramatic increase in certainty that a Saturday start time would give us.”
SD24's Summer Wise suggests revisions in convention schedule in light of technical snafus, getting electors and delegates elected this weekend, other business next weekend. TXGOP Chair Dickey, one all-nighter behind him and another ahead, would prefer not to reconvene until Sat pic.twitter.com/Lu8oL2ayzA
— jonathantilove (@JTiloveTX) July 17, 2020