The Republican National Committee decided to spend this week in a large Philadelphia gym. Well, that’s its present life. It’s the former site of a pro wrestling outfit — ECW Wrestling — and used to be called Viking Hall. It is also where portions of “The Wrestler” were filmed.
There’s still a ring, too. Management could have moved it for the Republicans, but they wanted to keep it.
“With the issues with the Democrats,” said RNC spokesperson Rick Gorka, “it made the backdrop ever more applicable.”
I went to see this backdrop earlier today in deep South Philly. 2300 Arena, as it is called these days, is located amongst mostly industrial buildings, aside from Jomar and, uh, Mini Golf Adventures.
Now, the Republicans’ setup does not lack for entertainment. It has the aura of a ’90s basement party. Flashing icicle lights greeted everyone who entered. A couple of TVs displayed Donald Trump’s press conference. The best part was in the corner. The “Rita Cabana,” specializing in ritas of the lime variety. Alas, just before noon they were giving out coffees instead of alcoholic beverages.
The lights and the Lime-A-Ritas were not the Republicans’ ideas. They are 2300 Arena mainstays. The best way to tell if the decor was something the Republicans brought is whether it vilified Hillary Clinton.
Standup posters were stationed throughout the space hailing the Clinton “Scandal Tour.” They listed events the Republicans consider scandals going back to 1978.
In the giant room with the boxing ring, the RNC set up Clinton games. There’s cornhole, Connect Four and a spinning wheel. The point of every game is that it’s supposed to be rigged for Clinton. Connect Four only has three pieces featuring Sanders’ face
As you might guess in a city with a 7 to 1 Democratic voting advantage holding the Democratic National Convention, the RNC’s headquarters aren’t exactly a hot spot. A handful of Republicans were hanging out this morning, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Republican strategist Sean Spicer were due to speak with media in a press conference early in the afternoon. RNC chairman Reince Priebus stopped by earlier this week.
But mainly this place is for the RNC to do its regular work in a different setting. Employees are working in a room on the upper floor. They’re calling it the war room. Gorka isn’t sure what the room’s regular function is.
A few other staffers are there to hand out “swag bags” to the media. The swag took the Republicans’ troll game of Clinton to the next level. This is what came in mine: