- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 7, 2003

New York City will host the 2004 Republican National Convention, party officials announced yesterday.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican who conducted months of negotiations with Republican National Committee Chairman Marc Racicot, said 2004 will be the first year the Republican Party founded in 1854 has held its presidential nominating convention in "the city that never sleeps."
"The Republican National Committee's decision shows that if you want to promote your ideas and vision for the country, there's no place better in the world to do it," Mr. Bloomberg said. "I can't thank President Bush and the [RNC] enough for their faith in New York."
Gov. George E. Pataki, a Republican, said the selection of New York "sends a message to America and the world that New York is back."
Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe had offered to hold his party's 2004 convention in New York if Mr. Bloomberg would promise not to host the Republican convention. Mr. Bloomberg declined.
Before the September 11 attacks, most Republicans agreed that the labor-union-dominated city heavily populated with liberal Democrats had little chance of hosting a Republican convention.
But since the attacks, the White House and top Republican officials had leaned toward New York because of the city's symbolic value. It was the site of Mr. Bush's Sept. 14, 2001, visit to ground zero, when he told cheering workers, "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. The people who knocked down this building will hear all of us soon."
"Each of us has a special place in our heart for New York City, and watching President Bush accept the Republican nomination in a place of such deep symbolism will definitely be inspiring to all Americans," Florida Republican Committee Chairman Al Cardenas said in congratulating the people of New York for getting the nod over Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., and New Orleans.
Symbolism and timing are more important than where a nominating convention is held, party officials said privately. The Republican convention will be held Aug. 30 through Sept. 2, three days before Labor Day and weeks after the Democratic National Convention in Boston. History reveals no correlation between the city or region in which a presidential nominating convention is held and the outcome of the election.
The Republican convention, which is expected to nominate Mr. Bush for a second term, will be held at Madison Square Garden, with press facilities to be set up across the street in the Farley Post Office Building. It will serve as a 330,000-square-foot press center.
As part of its bid, New York promised to provide 20,000 seats, 5,000 of which would be floor seating for delegates, alternates and others.
A skyway is planned to connect the two buildings, which offer a combined 1 million square feet of space. There will be somewhat fewer seats on the convention floor and fewer major-donor sky boxes than were available for the Republican conventions in Philadelphia in 2000 and in San Diego in 1996, party sources said.
Former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani was chairman of the committee that lobbied the RNC for the convention, which Mr. Bloomberg said is expected to generate more than $150 million in economic activity. Nearly 50,000 people are expected to attend.
Republicans long have been leery of holding a convention in New York, which is controlled by the nation's most powerful and Democratic-leaning labor unions, but Mr. Bloomberg said he got the unions to sign "no strike" agreements.

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