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Posted at 05:04 PM ET, 08/29/2012

Republican hot spots are ghost towns

Looking for a Republican? They’re (almost) all in Tampa. (Lucian Perkins for The Washington Post)
You might have heard (from Republicans) that the GOP is all about boosting business. And certainly the hotels and restaurants of Tampa might agree about the party’s stimulative effect.

But in a few corners of Washington, commerce is suffering from the mass migration of Republicans to their presidential convention.

Ask how traffic is at the Republican-only Capitol Hill Club, and you’ll hear it’s a bit of a ghost town this week. “Everyone’s down in Tampa — everyone,” says one staffer there. It’s become a gathering place, though, for the few souls not dodging Hurricane Issac, akin to a home-away-from-home sports bar where you know your team’s game will be on. The TVs will be turned to convention coverage starting at about 7 p.m.

At Bobby Van’s Steakhouse downtown, the lunchtime crowd Wednesday was lighter than usual. Bobby Van’s isn’t exclusively the province of the GOP, but one can reliably find Republican diners there, chowing on steaks and cabernets. But not this week. “A lot of our regulars aren’t here,” says general manager John Simkins.

Happy hour crowds have dropped off, reports a bartender, and he was surprised Tuesday night that no one requested the TVs be flipped from ESPN to convention coverage — everyone who cared enough was gone.

By  |  05:04 PM ET, 08/29/2012

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