Some of the country’s best-known corporations are nervously grappling with what role they should play at the Republican National Convention, given the likely nomination of Donald J. Trump, whose divisive candidacy has alienated many women, blacks and Hispanics. An array of activist groups is organizing a campaign to pressure the companies to refuse to sponsor the gathering, which many of the corporations have done for the Republican and the Democratic Parties for decades. The pressure is emerging as some businesses and trade groups are privately debating whether to scale back their participation, according to interviews with more than a dozen lobbyists, consultants and fund-raisers directly involved in the conversations. Apple, Google and Walmart are among the companies assessing their plans for the convention, which will be held July 18 to 21 in Cleveland.
In addition to Mr. Trump’s divisive politics, there is the possibility that protests, or even violence, will become a focus of attention at the convention. Mr. Trump has suggested that there will be “riots” if he is not chosen as the party’s nominee, and the city of Cleveland recently sought bids for about 2,000 sets of riot gear for its police force.
A reduction in support from major corporations would be worrisome for Cleveland, which celebrated the awarding of the convention last year as a symbol of the city’s rebirth. The host committee is seeking to raise about $64 million for the event.
“I have talked to several people at companies who have said, ‘I’ve always gone to the convention, I’ve always participated at some level, but this year we’re not putting it in our budget, we’re not going, we’re not going to sponsor any of the events going on,’ ” said Carla Eudy, a Republican fund-raising consultant.