Politics
6:40 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

An Unconventional Contender Emerges As GOP Ponders 2016 Convention

Originally published on Fri January 24, 2014 7:29 pm

Every four years a handful of cities battle to host the big nominating conventions for the major political parties. The competition for 2016 has already begun, with a surprising and aggressive player making a bid for the Republican National Convention: Las Vegas.

Certainly it's a place that knows how to host a big convention, but for the GOP to give Vegas the nod, the party will have to look past the city's well-earned reputation as "Sin City."

The Las Vegas 2016 committee is eager to change the idea that the city is not a place a political party wants to be associated with.

In a video, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval makes a political case for the city.

"Nevadans have come from everywhere and found success in coming together. We are stronger because of our vibrant Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities. Our party can and must appeal to everyone," Sandoval said.

Another video includes images of the nearby Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, kids running on a soccer field, the local NASCAR track and green golf courses — though no photos of slot machines or gambling.

Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was at the Republican National Committee's winter meetings in Washington this week. He downplayed the need to overcome the image of Sin City and how the RNC could be nervous about unflattering media coverage of delegates out on the town.

"There are opportunities everywhere in the world for behavior that's not believed to be acceptable by folks. We are the global entertainment of the world. Forty million a year come to visit because of our world-class shopping, shows; that is what we are and that's what we represent," Krolicki said.

Other cities making a pitch for the Republican convention include Denver — which successfully hosted the Democrats in 2008 — Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, and Phoenix. But none have had the robust lobbying presence of Las Vegas, which — as with the Vegas Strip itself — sees bigger and bolder as better in luring a political convention.

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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

Every four years a handful of cities vie to host the big nominating conventions for the major political parties and the competition for 2016 has begun. Among the very aggressive bidders for the Republican National Convention is none other than Las Vegas. Certainly it's a place that knows how to host a big convention, but for the GOP to give Vegas the nod, the party known for conservatism will have to look past the city's well-earned reputation as Sin City. NPR national political correspondent Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: Casinos, the Strip, nightlife, world class performers, family shows, yes, but also adult entertainment venues - lots of them. All of this is what has drawn conventions to Las Vegas ever since it rose out of the desert. It's among the world's strongest brands, and there's that slogan - say it with me - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. And if your gut reaction is that it's not exactly the kind of place a political party wants to be associated with, well, that's what the Las Vegas 2016 committee is eager to change.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GONYEA: This video, featuring Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval makes a political case for the city.

GOVERNOR BRIAN SANDOVAL: Nevadans have come from everywhere and found success in coming together. We are stronger because of our vibrant Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities. Our party can and must appeal to everyone.

GONYEA: Another video - it's three minutes with no voiceover - has images of the nearby Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, kids running on a soccer field, the local NASCAR track, green golf courses in the desert and exterior nighttime shots of the Strip, though no photos of slot machines or gambling. Sentences fade in and out listing a series of facts: 21,000 conventions came here last year alone; 15 of the world's 20 largest hotels; 531 places of worship. And there's one that says Las Vegas could accommodate all the attendees from the 2012 Tampa convention inside a one-mile radius. That's a reference to the many far flung hotels and long bus rides GOP conventioneers endured two summers ago in Florida.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GONYEA: Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki is at the Republican National Committee's winter meetings in Washington this week. He downplays the need to overcome the image of Sin City and how the RNC could be nervous about unflattering media coverage of delegates out on the town.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR BRIAN KROLICKI: There are opportunities everywhere in the world for behavior that's not believed to be acceptable by folks. We are the global entertainment of the world. Forty million a year come to visit because of our world class shopping, shows. You know, that is what we are and that's what we represent.

GONYEA: Other places here at the RNC meetings making a pitch for the Republican convention are Denver, which successfully hosted the Democrats in '08. There's also Columbus pointing out that Ohio is the most hard fought of all battleground states. Also here are Kansas City and Phoenix. But none have had the robust lobbying presence of Las Vegas, which, as with the Vegas Strip itself, sees bigger and bolder as better in luring a political convention. Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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