Twin Cities to Host 2008 GOP Convention

The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 27, 2006; 8:19 PM

WASHINGTON -- Republicans will hold their 2008 presidential convention in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, choosing a location in the politically pivotal Midwest.

Party and state officials announced the selection Wednesday. The convention is slated for Sept. 1-4, 2008.

"This is fantastic news," Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty said. "We're very, very pleased."

Losing out were New York City, Cleveland and a joint bid from Tampa and St. Petersburg, Fla., other cities that had sought the convention.

The four-day event will be held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., a concert venue and the home of the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild.

Democrats also had been considering holding their convention in the Twin Cities but the Republican announcement left Democrats with two competing cities to choose from _ New York and Denver.

By picking the Twin Cities for 2008, the GOP will ensure plenty of news coverage in media markets in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa _ all battleground states in the 2004 election and ones expected to be competitive in the next presidential race.

"The heartland of America," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn. "Whoever wins those states is going to be the next president of the United States."

Minnesota had been seen by some as an unlikely host, with just 10 electoral votes and the nation's longest streak of voting for Democratic presidential candidates.

In 2004, Democrat John Kerry won the state 51 percent to 48 percent. The last Republican to win a presidential race in the state was Richard Nixon in 1972 and the last national convention happened in 1892, when the GOP backed President Benjamin Harrison in his unsuccessful re-election bid.

Minnesota's political landscape, however, has shifted right in recent years. It has become less of a Democratic bastion and more of a swing-voting state, a change attributed in part to population growth in the Twin Cities suburbs.

The state was a hard-fought battleground in the 2004 and 2000 presidential elections, and in 2002, Minnesota elected Pawlenty, a Republican, as governor and Coleman as senator.

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