NYC Woos National Political Conventions

The Associated Press
Wednesday, June 14, 2006; 8:13 PM

NEW YORK -- The Big Apple is touting the political boost it could give Democrats in 2008 as party officials scout out potential cities for their presidential-nominating convention _ with even the Republican mayor hosting them in his home as part of their three-day visit.

As members of the Democrats National Committee are treated to horse drawn carriage rides in Central Park, drinks atop New York's latest high-rise hotspot and dinner with Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week, the city is also hoping to lure Republicans back after their 2004 convention.

Jonathan Tisch, chairman of Loew's Hotels and co-chairman of the New York host committee for the Democratic National Convention, said the Republicans' success here in 2004 was evidence that both parties should consider the Big Apple.

"For Democrats, it would be an opportunity to hold a convention in a place that understands diversity, opportunity and responsibility, all of which is part and parcel of the Democrats' message," Tisch said. "For Republicans, much the same, plus the fact that they had such success two years ago. They could come back and repeat it."

New York is competing with New Orleans, Minneapolis and Denver to host the Democrats' convention, which was held last in Boston.

While New York and Minneapolis also invited the GOP, officials in Cleveland and Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., are vying for their convention in 2008.

Among other things, party conventions offer a significant economic boost to their host cities. An analysis from Bloomberg's office suggests New York enjoyed a $255 million "economic impact" as a result of the 2004 convention.

Choosing the city for a high-profile convention is a significant part of the political calculations for each party, even though analysts disagree over whether the site of a convention matters much to voters.

"The committee is coming to evaluate the bid the city submitted," said DNC spokesman Damien LaVera, declining to comment further.

Republican National Committee spokesman Aaron McLean said there was precedent for a party to host a convention in the same city in back to back elections. Republicans hosted their convention in Miami Beach in 1968 and 1972, while Democrats held back-to-back conventions in New York in 1976 and 1980.

"New York is very much in the running for Republicans in 2008," McLean said.

Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker said that while New York remains an attractive convention town, it no longer holds the symbolic sway it did in when Republicans nominated President Bush for a second term at a convention filled with 9/11 imagery and dire warnings of further terrorism.

"I don't think Republicans could get the same bounce in New York in 2008 _ that was kind of a one-trick pony," Baker said. "It's a Democratic state, and Democrats quite properly take it for granted."

Baker said Republicans would benefit by choosing Cleveland and Democrats by selecting New Orleans. Democratic Party leaders have tried to make the Katrina catastrophe a metaphor for Republican incompetence and cronyism.

"To have it in the Superdome, where all those people were abandoned, would be a great symbolic gesture for Democrats," Baker said.

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