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Dick Durbin: Conventions Are On the Way Out

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

TAMPA, Fla. — Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (Ill.) arrived at the Republican National Convention to provide rapid Democratic response, but he also questioned whether the party nomination hoopla might soon be a thing of the past.

“I wonder about conventions as part of our political process,” Durbin said tonight in an interview with Roll Call in the media workspace at the RNC. “It’s a pretty expensive undertaking and time-consuming undertaking, and the day may come, in the world of social media, that there’s another way to do this.”

Durbin’s comments follow a similar sentiment expressed by Speaker John Boehner. The Ohio Republican told reporters this week, “I’m not sure that having a four-day convention for the future makes a lot of sense.”

Durbin pointed to scaled-back media coverage as another reason future conventions might be shorter or downsized affairs.

“What used to be gavel-to-gavel coverage on all the network news and some suspense and wonderment, it’s a lot different story now,” he said. “Of course, we live in a world of multiple news cycles each day.”

Durbin flew to the Cigar City for interviews and plans to head to Charlotte, N.C., next week for his own party’s convention, where he said it’s likely he will speak.

But if it were up to the Illinois Democrat, he might pick a different locale for future party confabs: Chicago. The Windy City last hosted a party convention in 1996. It was a memorable year for Durbin: He led his state delegation to the Democratic National Convention, plus won his first term in the Senate.

“The weather was perfect,” Durbin recalled. “It was a spectacular convention. I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to match it.”

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