Politics & Government

Here’s what Winthrop leader and GOP convention planner says about his party, Trump

Winthrop University’s top trustee has many titles.

Glenn McCall, chairman of the Winthrop Board of Trustees, served as vice-chairman on the planning committee for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. He served as a National Committeeman from South Carolina for the GOP since 2008, and is currently the chairman of the budget committee for the Republican National Committee.

He’s also playing a big role in planning the 2020 GOP convention in Charlotte. McCall is co-chairman for the Committee on Arrangements.

He says he expects the convention in Charlotte will bring in more than $200 million of economic impact spread across the region, including York County.

McCall talked on Thursday with The Herald. Here’s what he had to say:

The Herald: How long have you been involved in GOP leadership, and can you tell us more about what your role is in planning the convention?

McCall: “I’ve been involved in party leadership probably since 2003. I was elected to the national committee in 2008, representing South Carolina in the national committee. And our role, Committee on Arrangements for the convention, is actually planning every aspect of the convention, from the arena to hoteling, to venues for events.

“We’re going to attract, hopefully, 50,000 plus visitors to the convention, including 15,000 credentialed media representatives. So it’s a huge event.

“And what is really nice for this region and for Charlotte is all the state parties and companies and other entities that come in, they have functions and various activities. And there will probably be 1,200-plus venues rented out to host parties and all the festivities. So it’ll be great.

“And as you know, there’s a large audience. We’re predicting about 32 to 35 million that will watch a live broadcast of the convention. So that four-day event, it’s really compact. But the actual work started two years before – from announcing the city that hosts it, and in turn, from there, working to put on from day one to day four, the actual nomination of (President Donald Trump) for re-election.”

Herald: So what would a successful convention look like for you after these four days?

McCall: “Everything goes without any problems. What’s successful, I think most importantly, is that all of the visitors that come ... and enjoy themselves, this region, and the city of Charlotte, and in turn, will generate more activities around conventions coming to the region and so forth.”

Herald: Obviously in the determination process for where the convention was being held, there was some controversy. Do you think that’s settled down?

McCall: “Yeah, it’s settled down. Because no matter where we have it, I mean, all of the city leaders that apply to host the event, they understand dollars are not blue or red or purple, they’re green. And it can have a tremendous impact into the city coffers, hosting an event of this size and nature.”

Herald: So being involved in the other conventions, is that controversy something that is new with this president, or has that been a factor in the past?

McCall: “It’s been a factor in other conventions. There are some on city councils or leaders in the city that prefer it not be there or don’t want that attention, don’t want all that security, because it really alters the city and transportation, work schedules. For example, in Cleveland, most of the business in downtown Cleveland had their employees work from home or not come in because there was just so much going on.”

Herald: We cover York, Lancaster and Chester counties. What does the Republican party look like in those counties, and what are South Carolina Republicans doing to maintain power there?

McCall: “Well, it’s interesting you ask that. I saw something this morning. The last Democrat (in a countywide elected office, according to The Lancaster News) in Lancaster County switched parties this morning, to the Republican party. So we’re seeing that, and it’s because of the values, what we believe. We have a great legislature, the governor, the senator, here in York County and also Lancaster, Chester.

“And I like to brag on (S.C. Rep. ) Gary Simrill and the team that we have here. Great job they did, I want to give them a shout out for getting the headquarters, getting the bill passed where the Panthers can build their headquarters here in York County. So it’s growing, believe it or not, in the state the party is. And it’s evident by what happened in Lancaster County this morning.”

Herald: So in your opinion, what is the perception of the president in these counties? Is it different than that of around the nation?

McCall: “Well I guess that depends where you are. New York? Yes, yes greatly different. But all of the counties that you mentioned, that we’re talking about, Chester, Lancaster, York, President Trump won our counties and I feel confident he’ll re-win, get victory in 2020 here.”

Herald: As an African-American in a prominent role in the South Carolina Republican Party, has that informed your experiences in a different way than it has other party leadership?

McCall: “I think it’s something that I enjoy doing, I’ve always, since I’ve started. And it really came out of my time in the Air Force, in the military, the values, looking at both parties. Growing up in a Democratic household, but looking at the values for myself, and I just chose the Republican Party most aligned with my values. I have to work and prove myself just like everyone else.”

Herald: Do you see organizational strength for people of minority identities in the Republican Party in South Carolina? Do you work with many organizations that focus on that?

McCall: “Yes, back in 2016, I helped author the “Growth and Opportunity” report for the Republican Party after our 2012 loss. Our nominee was Romney. And as a result of that, we decided that one of the things we needed to do was be more active in communities of color, and go to those communities, not only during an election cycle, but year-round. And that’s what we’ve done in major metropolitan areas where there are large numbers of people of color.”

Herald: So you think that’s something that’s growing, really working to gain the votes of people of color?

McCall: “Yes, but not only that, I think it’s also policy. I think more people of color are seeing policy with our current president versus our past president, and even within our state, keeping our taxes low and using taxpayer dollars wisely. I think people appreciate that, and having jobs.”

Herald: Is there anything else we should know?

McCall: “I’m excited; I’m just excited about having (the convention) so close to home, and our region benefiting from all of the exposure that’s going to happen, worldwide exposure. And also reaping some of the benefits of people coming and spending money. And I think some of our nice attractions in Rock Hill, the Velodrome, is probably going to be used, I’m sure, by some of the delegation, and other things.”

Related stories from Rock Hill Herald

Hannah Smoot reports on money and power for The Herald, covering York, Lancaster and Chester counties. She has been a reporter at The Herald since June 2017. Contact Hannah at 803-329-4068, hgsmoot@heraldonline.com or follow her on Twitter @hgsmoot.