- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) — New York City is the unanimous choice of the GOP's site selection committee to host the 2004 Republican National Convention, which made its recommendation in a conference call Monday.

"The wide range of venues, the enthusiasm of the city, and the strong business deal put New York over the top," Republican National Chairman Marc Racicot said in a statement. The city beat out two other finalists, Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and New Orleans, where the elder George Bush was nominated for vice president in 1988.

This is the first time New York will host the GOP convention. The Democrats, by contrast, have held five conventions — 1868, 1924, 1976, 1980 and 1992 —in the nation's largest city, going on to win in November 1976 and 1992.

Republicans have enjoyed a string of surprising political wins in the city, most recently in the upset victory of billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, a former Democrat, for the city's top job over former Public Advocate Mark Green in 2001.

There was some talk in Washington at year's end that Bloomberg's leadership on several initiatives to increase taxes might derail the city's convention bid, but Monday's announcement seems to indicate that it was just talk.

"We believe New York will provide an outstanding backdrop to showcase our candidate and our party in 2004," Racicot said.

That could be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, the GOP is certain to find ways to stress President George W. Bush's strong leadership of the nation in the war against terrorism. As the home of Ground Zero, site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, New York provides a number of backdrops that will be useful to the president in emphasizing his administration's successes in the war against terror.

On the other hand, Democrats can be expected to respond quickly to any suggestion, no matter how slight, that the administration is seeking to exploit the terrorist attacks for political purposes.

The city of New York and the committee must still complete negotiations. If a site agreement can be reached, the committee says, the full committee will vote on the plan at its winter 2003 meeting in Washington, where it is expected to be approved.

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