Kansas City pitches GOP for 2016 Convention

Fundraising effort now takes center stage

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A delegation more than 25 members strong braved a winter storm that largely shut down the federal government to make a formal pitch to Republican leaders for the right to host the party’s 2016 national convention in Kansas City.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James told reporters after the hour-long presentation the bi-state bid committee from Kansas City was “dead serious” about bringing the Republican nominating convention back for the first time since 1976.

“I think that our chances are great and I have every confidence that we will be given serious consideration because we are a serious contender and we have serious amenities and we're going to be very serious about making sure that when this convention comes to Kansas City in 2016... they'll wish they had come earlier,” Mayor James said at a news conference at GOP headquarters in Washington.

Kansas City was one of five bidding cities to make formal presentations to the RNC’s site selection committee on Monday. Three cities-- Cincinnati, Dallas and Las Vegas-- were forced to reschedule after snow wreaked havoc on cross-country travel plans.

Nevertheless, the chairwoman of the site selection committee said she was more than satisfied by what she had seen so far from the competing cities.

“We are extraordinarily pleased both with the number of bids we have received and the quality of those bids,” Committee Chairwoman Enid Mickelsen of Utah said.

Mickelsen and RNC Chairman Reince Priebus used their media appearance to lay out how the site selection decision will be made – both repeating several times the primacy of a selected city being able to raise the required $50-60 million dollars necessary to put on the four-day convention.

“First, finances. Second, transportation, hotels, delegate experience,” Priebus said in outlining his priorities for the site-selection committee. “Those are the things we've got to deal with. We've got to make sure that we put on a convention that gives our nominee a bump, and to me that's the number one purpose of having a convention All of that plays a role.”

“Financial resources will not be a question as relates to Kansas City's ability to host the next president of the United States, whoever he or she might be,” KC fundraiser John Oliver said at Kansas City’s media availability, declining to elaborate on how much money Kansas City had raised so far.

In a phone interview on Monday, fundraiser Linda Bond said the bid committee was collecting signed pledges for donations. No actual money would change hands until and unless Kansas City was selected as the host city. She said the finance committee had begun raising money locally and from businesses and would soon expand its efforts regionally and nationally to deep-pocketed donors.

“We have started to talk to directly to companies and businesses in Kansas City,” she said at the Washington news conference. “I don't think we're ready to kind of give you a long list of who they are, but I will tell you everyone we've talked to, not one has said no.”

Only after those considerations were addressed, Priebus said, would he consider the host state’s perceived electoral value, and whether hosting a convention there could push it in to the Republican column. The last state to host the GOP convention then turn red in November was Texas in 1992.

“I think every city brings an advantage. And you've got to look at what those advantages are for the committee,” Priebus said. “For me it’s a business decision about where the site is chosen.”

Mickelsen also dismissed concerns about locating the convention in a primarily-democratic city like Kansas City or Cleveland, noting that most inner-cities, where convention facilities are located, tend to support Democrats.

“We're not worried about that, Mickelsen said.  “It doesn't matter if you're going into a Democrat or Republican county.’

Perhaps that sentiment fueled Mayor James confidence, which was clearly brimming after his presentation.

“We are looking forward to being selected,” James told reporters. “And we are looking forward to giving them the best convention they've had since 1976, when they last had their convention in Kansas City.”

That convention launched a ticket of Gerald Ford and Kansan Bob Dole. They were defeated by Jimmy Carter. 

On Monday, the city posted a promotional video to YouTube with the video caption:

"This morning, #KansasCity 's case to host the 2016 Republican National Convention was presented in Washington, D.C.

Kansas City is ready to bring the #Republican National Convention back to America's Heartland. With its world-class facilities, revitalized downtown, unparalleled transit and logistics capabilities and more than 32,000 hotel rooms, the Kansas City spirit of hard work, creativity and hospitality is ready to host the most successful #RNC  in history. #GOP"

You can see the video below. Mobile users can view the video here: http://bit.ly/1hHc3L3

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