WASHINGTON — Seeking to capture the quintessential swing state of Ohio in the next presidential election, Republicans will hold their 2016 national convention in Cleveland, the party announced Tuesday.
The city was chosen after a lengthy review by the Republican National Committee, which narrowed the field to two finalists; Dallas was the other. The two cities aggressively wooed party officials during site visits, including with a parade of elephants (Dallas) and a Heisman trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel (Cleveland).
Committee staff downplayed the political implications of the choice. Instead, they said their pick would reflect a basic business decision: which city could raise the more than $50 million for a convention that the party required and also accommodate an early-summer date. But there is a political truth as well: No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio.
Republicans want to avoid the pitfall of 2012 when the late-August nomination of Mitt Romney delayed his use of general election funds to counter strong Democratic attacks on television over the summer. Cleveland organizers promised a date in June and Dallas in July.
Republicans officials also delved deeply into each host committee’s finances, looking to see money in escrow, not just promises of a fund-raising target. The party seeks to avoid shortfalls that will require last-minute fund-raising by the presumed nominee to pay for the convention.
Although Cleveland is a heavily Democratic city, a bipartisan committee of boosters aggressively sought the Republican event, which brings tens of thousands of visitors and a national spotlight, as a way to highlight major downtown redevelopment and rewrite the script of a Cleveland as a Rust Belt has-been.
Dallas, a more cosmopolitan and assured center of Sun Belt commerce, just as eagerly craved the attention a convention brings, to highlight new investments like the recently opened George W. Bush Presidential Library.