- The Washington Times - Monday, April 22, 2002

Democrats narrowed to five the field of cities vying to play host to their 2004 convention by last week's deadline, and they plan the next cut in May, before Republicans start whittling their list of 24 cities.
New York, Miami, Boston, Detroit and Baltimore bid for the Democratic National Convention, which will be staged during the week of July 18. All but Baltimore intend also to bid for the Republican National Convention, whose deadline for 2004 proposals is June 17.
The party that controls the White House automatically enjoys the politically advantageous last word and begins its presidential campaign with whatever bump in public opinion it can take from the convention.
The Republican Party has invited 24 cities to compete for its convention, tentatively set for the week of Aug. 8.
All the bids are secret but Boston's proposal was said to be $50 million, which would far exceed the Democratic National Committee minimum, which is based on Los Angeles' $36 million outlay in 2000, when Philadelphia spent $66 million on the Republicans.
The Miami area, which hosted both conventions in 1972, is trying again this year but the conventional wisdom is that New York has the inside track because both parties want to show solidarity with the city's recovery from September 11 terrorist attacks.
"Certainly what New York went through will be a factor when we make our decision," said DNC Communications Director Maria Cardona. "We assume that if a city put in their [bid], we believe they are able to meet our minimum requirements, but many factors are considered."
Among them are Michigan's value as a swing state, Boston's "Democratic heritage," and Florida's status as "such an important state," she said without specifically mentioning George W. Bush's razor-thin victory there in 2000.
The Democratic site-advisory committee meets next month to decide which cities will get the full treatment and visit.
While other cities hand-delivered bids to Washington, Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe journeyed to New York to collect Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's package and to invite him to switch back to the Democratic Party.
"Mr. Mayor, whenever you're ready to come home again, we're ready for you," Mr. McAuliffe said in a tongue-in-cheek way that some Republicans interpreted as offering a deal for the convention.
Ms. Cardona said the DNC requires that 17,000 hotel rooms be available in a city that can accommodate upwards of 50,000 visitors, with a transportation infrastructure that can safely move delegates, media and other visitors. The Republicans ask for 20,000 hotels rooms, including 2,000 suites and a convention floor that seats 5,000 delegates.
The Republican site-selection committee expects about eight bids and in July will narrow the field to two or three cities. Site visits in August will lead to a final recommendation for RNC ratification by Feb. 1.
Cities also provide large hospitality venues indoors and out, utilities, media workspace and a police presence that drains off some of the benefits when it costs $10 million, as it did in Philadelphia in 2000.
Philadelphia was not on the Republican list and appeared to back away from Mayor John F. Street's promise to seek a repeat visit.
"Candidly, there are some reservations," said the mayor's spokesman Frank Keel, who predicted security costs would be much higher next time around.
Bearing platters of stone crabs and joined by an actor dressed as a donkey, Miami officials delivered an application that included 10,000 suites with its allotment of more than 25,000 hotel rooms. It designated the downtown American Airlines Arena as convention hall and would include use of Coconut Grove Exhibition Center, Miami Beach Convention Center, James L. Knight Center and the historic Vizcaya mansion for the week.
"We tried to get a real donkey," a press spokeswoman said by way of apology.
"We have the experience of hosting large-scale events, and this is a great cosmopolitan area in the middle of paradise," Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas said.
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who carried his city's bid to Washington, shares Miami's view that the convention is worth $150 million to the host city. Detroit spent an estimated $400,000 just to prepare its invitation.
Among cities where costs were a factor in not bidding was Pittsburgh, which said it could not afford to pay $350 million on a convention center.

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