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Politics & Government

Cleveland Is 'Absolutely Ready' For RNC And Protests, Says Sen. Sherrod Brown

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we're going back to Cleveland where the Republican National Convention starts tomorrow. When we were there last week, we caught up with one Cleveland resident excited about this week's convention, and it's not even his own party. Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown is a longtime member of Congress from Ohio. He was first elected in 1993 and then moved over to the Senate nine years ago. Senator Brown was still in Washington when I called, but I had a chance to ask him whether Cleveland is ready to host the Republican National Convention.

SHERROD BROWN: The city's absolutely ready. The city - we had a pretty good spring with LeBron James and the Cavaliers winning the NBA championship. Things are very good in Cleveland now, still some issues in the neighborhoods, but we're coming back in so many good ways.

MARTIN: This is a different kind of event. I mean, the fact is everybody here loves LeBron James and the Cavs, everybody does not love the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. And this is a pretty Democratic area. On top of that, a number of people have promised to come and protest at this convention because they say that they feel that it is their obligation to demonstrate their opposition to the policies of the party and to this particular nominee. Does that give you any concerns?

BROWN: Oh, I'm always concerned about huge crowds and what that can mean in a city, but I'm totally confident that the people in Cleveland will be peaceful. There are great efforts on the part of people of faith to greet delegates and to march and to do peaceful demonstrations and to exhort any outsiders that come in, that might be less inclined to do that, to in fact be peaceful.

I am hopeful that Donald Trump doesn't try to stir people up in any ways with rhetoric, as he's done in rallies elsewhere, but I'm confident in the police department in Cleveland. I'm confident there will be lots of protests. I'm fine with that. It's what we do in this country. It's healthy for democracy. And I am confident the people of Cleveland will make sure that they will be peaceful.

MARTIN: Recognizing that you are not a Republican, as we said, this is not your party. Since this is the week we're going into the Republican Convention, where the party puts on its case for the American people, is there a particular tone you would like to hear them strike? What would you want to hear out of this convention this week?

BROWN: I watched most of the debates on both sides over the last several months, as many in the country did. The Republican debates were so often name-calling and talking about each other's families, let alone appeals to race and appeals to religion and bashing of immigrants. And I'm hopeful that Mr. Trump decides that's not the way to win this election. It may have been the way to win the primary. It may have been the way to slice off the most extreme of Republicans. But that's not what we are.

And I think that if Donald Trump's campaigns continue this kind of hate speech, there's no question in my mind they will lose the election. I think that's good, but it - what's not good is that the hate speech may continue after the election. So it's in my interest as a citizen of this country and as an Ohioan and as a proud Clevelander that they do tone it down and they're respectful of one another and respectful of political opponents. I mean, I - when I work on legislation in the Senate, I always find a Republican sponsor to work with because that's how you get things done. I know that Secretary Clinton knows that.

MARTIN: Speaking of the presumptive nominee for your party, it's - your reputed to be on the short list to be the vice presidential nominee. It's her decision, of course, would you want that job?

BROWN: If the presidential nominee asks someone to be their running mate, you say yes. But I have not aspired to it. I love this job in the Senate. I love working on issues, from keeping Lake Erie healthy to business growth in Columbus, but it's not something I aspire to. I've not campaigned in any way, actively, for it. I consider my professional life a success if I get to continue in the United States Senate for another decade or so.

MARTIN: That was Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, speaking to us from Capitol Hill. Senator Brown, thanks so much for speaking with us.

BROWN: Thanks, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.