- Associated Press - Monday, January 26, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A delegation from the Democratic National Committee revisited some of Columbus’ trendy downtown neighborhoods Monday while working to decide on a host city for its 2016 convention.

A person close to the Columbus 2016 committee told The Associated Press that DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and a small team were testing walking distances between the convention site at Nationwide Arena and the convention center, various hotels and the attractions in the Arena District and Short North areas. The person gave details of their itinerary on condition of anonymity because the visit was closed to the press.

DNC spokeswoman Lily Adams confirmed Wasserman Schultz’s visit Monday but declined to release details of the trip. The Florida congresswoman also plans visits to Philadelphia and Brooklyn in New York City - the other two finalist cities - this week.

Monday’s schedule included a driving tour to see hotel clusters, event spaces, theaters, parks and the city’s upgraded downtown riverfront, most of which the group had seen earlier and was double-checking, the person said.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman was among those helping lead the tour, according to the person. The mayor’s spokeswoman said she could not provide details of the congresswoman’s visit.

A luncheon with some two dozen representatives of the arts, hospitality, business, government and labor sectors that are collaborating on the city’s bid capped the visit, the person said. The meal undoubtedly featured a new Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream flavor, White House blueberry, created after delegates praised the company’s products during an earlier visit.

The visit Monday followed an overnight snowstorm that slowed traffic and closed some schools. The convention is scheduled to be held the week of July 25, 2016.

If Columbus were picked, it would be the first time in U.S. history that two cities in the same state hosted the parties’ conventions. Republicans have picked Cleveland for their 2016 convention, giving Democrats a chance with Columbus to offer an in-state rebuttal in the coveted political swing state.

Columbus, Ohio’s capital city, is a day’s drive from about half the U.S. population. It sits in a state that sees dozens of stops during every presidential campaign and has a history of picking winning presidents.

Nicknamed “the mother of presidents,” Ohio also has been home to eight presidents. Current Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, has said he is keeping his options open when it comes to a potential presidential run next year. He ran once before in 2000.


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