Rhode Island Uses Convention Spotlight to Bash Rhode Island

Republican delegate blamed Democrats for state's troubles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 20, 2016 2:13 PM CDT

(Newser) – Rhode Island's delegation to the Republican National Convention is taking some heat back home for using its spotlight to trash the state's reputation on national TV, the AP reports. State GOP Chairman Brandon Bell delivered Rhode Island's votes in the state-by-state roll call that led to Donald Trump's nomination Tuesday night. It's a time when delegates traditionally use their few minutes with the microphone to share quirky trivia or tout amenities or local products. Bell praised Rhode Island's coastal beauty and its history of religious tolerance but said it constantly ranks at the bottom nationally, calling attention to one recent CNBC ranking declaring it the worst state for business. He blamed a "corrupt Democrat political machine" he says has run the state for 80 years.

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The speech quickly earned laughs outside the state, with people on social media joking about Rhode Island's reputation for self-loathing. A local conservative talk-show host defended the criticism of Democratic leadership as appropriate for a political event. But some business leaders and others in the Democrat-leaning state weren't so happy. "What an embarrassment! It was disgraceful," entrepreneur Rajiv Kumar wrote on Twitter. The head of a local tourism bureau said that every state has good and bad attributes but that Bell wasted an "unbelievable platform to talk about the virtues of Rhode Island." "To call out and degrade our state like that I think was a missed opportunity," said Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport. "Calling it the home of Hasbro and Mr. Potato Head would have been fun. It could have been whimsical or different." (Read more Rhode Island stories.)

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