Faces of the RNC
Betsy Gehring, in charge of logistics, fields requests for rooms with a view, or a bar, or a spa
If you think your to-do list is daunting, meet Betsy Gehring , who is in charge of logistics – hotel assignments and delegate travel – for this week’s Republican National Convention .
Her more interesting list, though, is the one she’s been keeping of all of the special requests that have made her laugh. Some delegates, for example, said they really had to have a room on Lake Erie , with a pool, gym and walking trails. Or in a hotel with a bar , or a spa . Or near someone they like , or far from someone they really do not .
As in, “We get along with (State’s X’s) delegation and (State Y’s) too, but we don’t like (those awful State Z folks), so don’t put us with them.”
The best rooms, she said, went to the New York, Texas and Ohio delegations since the last three Republican presidential contenders standing come from those states.
So, with the convention opening on Monday, can Gehring finally kick back and check out some of those hotel spas or bars or lake views herself?
Not exactly. Over the weekend, her team of 10 distributed commemorative badges and the 100-page glossy welcome guide they had put together, and on Sunday night, they helped the host committee with a welcome party at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame .
And from now until the delegates pack for home, she’ll be overseeing the vendors in the ‘Freedom Marketplace ’ of mementos for sale outside the hall.
The daughter of California flower growers, Gehring got into GOP politics because as a college student at the University of Southern California, “I was in a relationship I needed to get out of, everyone else was going abroad and D.C. was the only program open.” But once in her internship, at the National Republican Congressional Committee, she almost immediately decided, “This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”
She went on to work the Republican National Convention in Dallas in 1984 as a junior staffer for Reagan-Bush, the Bush-Quayle New Orleans RNC in 1988 for the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the 1992 convention in Houston as a (very pregnant) consultant. She later moved to Houston with her family, where she raised her two children.
It was only last year that she went back to D.C., “where I hadn’t been in 15 years,” looking to get back into politics after a divorce and the death of her father, whom she’d taken care of during what turned out to be the last year of his life.
As she sees it, RNC CEO “Jeff Larson was willing to take a risk” on a 54-year-old starting a new chapter, and she went right to work as director of delegate services.
A few months ago, she wrote for a women’s site called SheKnows.com that trying to fit thousands of moving puzzle pieces together was a particularly good fit because “everything around me — my daily schedule, our host city of Cleveland, even the GOP — is in a state of change. That’s perfect because so am I.”
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