At this “Irish wake,” the beer was poured, toasts were made and stories were told around a coffin draped in black silk. A white floral wreath mourned the deceased, a ribbon wrapped around its center read: “RIP GOP.”
Republicans gathered at the Dubliner, D.C.’s popular Irish tavern in the shadow of the Capitol, to mourn their party, now the province of a brash outsider who has demolished what they knew and loved in politics.
“Most of us have wonderful experiences in the Republican Party. We just feel that the party that Donald Trump has built is no longer the party we joined,” organizer Andrew Weinstein said.
Weinstein, like the other mourners, boasted establishment pedigrees. They used to work at Hill offices, GOP think tanks or consulting firms. (Of course some Democrats showed up).
Wenstein was a former deputy press secretary for one-time House Speaker Newt Gingrich , R-Ga., and was the director of media relations for Bob Dole ’s 1996 presidential campaign. He is now the founder and CEO of Ridgeback Communications, a consulting firm.
The room was adorned with framed photographs of former Republican Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. In honor of Reagan, there were bowls of Jelly Beans around the room.
“We were talking about what we could do over the course of the convention to commemorate a little bit … and thought a wake might be an appropriate way to do it,” Weinstein said.
Signs around the event read an Irish proverb: “a hole is more honorable than a patch.”
“A wake is an opportunity to remember a person who’s gone and highlight their life and treasure the great things they did but also is a joyous experience,” he said.
The Republicans were largely worried about speaking on the record.
So, who are they voting for?
“I have to vote for her,” Weinstein said of Democrat Hillary Clinton. “Under any other circumstance, I’d be working against her election. … At the end of the day, she is fundamentally qualified to be president and Donald Trump is not.”
“My hope is that after this election is said and done the party can begin rebuilding, and people who are here tonight and others can come together and think how to re-energize the party,” he added.