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Tom Brokaw: 'it's time to reevaluate how we conduct these conventions'

Larry Mantle (R) interviews Tom Brokaw at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Larry Mantle (R) interviews Tom Brokaw at the 2012 Republican National Convention.
Lauren Osen/KPCC

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Journalist and news anchor Tom Brokaw, who has been to 22 separate conventions over the decades, told Larry Mantle that political conventions need a makeover. He feels that the massive, multi-day events don't serve the voting public and cost too much money.

"I think it's time to reevaluate how we conduct these conventions," he said. "An awful amount of money is being spent on the line where we are right now ... Haley Barbour told me the other day that they spent $11 million to put the convention on in San Diego [in 1996]. He figures they're spending close to that on security alone here."

Brokaw said the price is hard to justify when conventions have no part in influencing the election outcome, especially when it's to advertise information that's already known.

"I have yet to talk with a senior official of either party who doesn't agree that it's outgrown its usefulness," he continued. "We know who the nominee is, we know who the vice presidential candidate is, we know what the platform is. So it lacks spontaneity, and it lacks reason for people who are sitting at home to get excited about watching."

Brokaw said his interest lies in raising voting levels and getting the rest of the country involved in the election process.

Despite his views, Brokaw said there's something to be learned: "I see how [candidates] organize themselves, and I think conventions tell you something about how they may run their campaigns, or even how they may run the country for that matter."

He went on to say his natural enthusiasm will continue to fuel trips to future conventions.

"It's bred into me. I got into this business because I was a political junkie from the age of 10 on, and it's never uninteresting," he said. "I love the way tribal america organizes itself and makes decisions about what its future is, and this is where it begins."


Tom Brokaw, former anchor of NBC News

Frank Stoltze, KPCC Reporter