Election 2008: Republican National Convention CEO
Wednesday, July 23, 2008; 1:00 PM
Republican National Convention president and CEO Maria Cino was online Wednesday, July 23 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss preparations and plans for the Sept. 1-4 convention, and questions you might have about Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.
The transcript follows.
Harrisburg, Pa.: Will Bob Dole be in attendance? If so, will he speak to the convention?
Maria Cino: We are looking forward to welcoming several all-star guests and speakers. We are currently developing our program and will announce the lineup in the near future.
New Orleans: How far away are protestors being kept away, and are you concerned that critics are going to claim Republicans are stifling free expression by not letting protestors nearer to the media?
Maria Cino: The Saint Paul Police Department along with Secret Service considers safety, security and mobility its top priorities for all convention participants. Local law enforcement will designate the free speech zones.
New Orleans: Are you afraid that if Sen. McCain announces his vice presidential nominee well in advance of September, there will be far less attention paid to the convention?
Maria Cino: Absolutely not. We are in the process of finalizing the program schedule and are confident that this convention will be the most exciting in GOP history. We look forward to showcasing Sen. John McCain and the Vice Presidential candidate for over 45,000 convention guests and millions more participating from home.
Philadelphia: How far away are hotels booked during the convention? If a tourist wanted to visit the Twin Cities during the convention, what parts of the city would be closed and how bad would you expect traffic to be? Are any public places (i.e. museums) planning on closing during the convention, or should the rest of the city be open as usual?
Maria Cino: We have 102 hotels and 16,000 hotel rooms reserved throughout the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area and we look forward to showcasing all that the Twin Cities have to offer.
A team of transportation experts have devised a traffic management plan that will ensure that most of downtown remains open and accessible during the convention. We expect that a fairly limited area of downtown Saint Paul will be significantly affected.
The traffic management plan will accommodate increased traffic, limit disruption to local residents and businesses, and support the Saint Paul Police Department's safety and security goals.
The city will remain open for business. However, many venues will host convention events and forums.
Nashville, Tenn.: What has been done to the Xcel Center so far?
Maria Cino: Twenty-five trucks carrying equipment and supplies arrived early Monday morning at the Xcel Energy Center. Over the past three days, crews began removing 3000 chairs and made modifications to suites and media workspace to accommodate over 15,000 members of media expected to cover this year's convention.
Over the next six weeks, close to 500 workers will install nearly six miles of phone and Internet cable and a total of 4,500 data and analog lines. Cellular providers are working to increase service capacity and state-of-the-art technology will be installed to provide real-time access to convention activities for millions around the world.
New York: Will Sen. Joe Lieberman address the convention? If so, will it be during prime time?
Maria Cino: We are currently in the process of finalizing our program and look forward to sharing it in the near future.
Crawford, Texas: When will President Bush be speaking?
Maria Cino: We have not finalized the official program schedule, however, we look forward to releasing it in the near future.
New Orleans: Is there any hotel space left for us last-minute attendees supporting future Vice President Jindal?
Maria Cino: Hotel space is limited and rooms are filling up. If you are an official guest of the convention, please contact us soon to confirm reservations.
Minneapolis: Looking forward to hosting you in September! I know you don't have/can't give specifics, but can you give us an overview of how the convention is paid for? What parts does the Republican National Committee pay for? What parts are covered by the city? Is there private fundraising specifically for the convention? Who pays for security, and is that reimbursed to some extent by the federal government? Thanks!
Maria Cino: The 2008 Republican National Convention receives funding from a variety of sources. We receive federal grants to assist with security and day to day operations. Additionally, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Host Committee agrees to provide funding for certain aspects of the convention planning process.
Richmond, Va.: Are there any plans to move John McCain's speech to a larger venue, to match the forum for Obama's speech in Denver?
Maria Cino: We plan to hold all four days of the 2008 Republican National Convention at the Xcel Energy Center. We could not be more impressed with the Xcel Center. It will provide state-of-the-art access for delegates, guests, and the media.
Additionally, the River Centre convention center and The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium are uniquely connected to the Xcel Energy Center and will provide the utmost accessibility for guests and media.
Duluth, Minn.: Are you "going green" like the Democrats' convention?
Maria Cino: The Republican Party is the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who was the first American president to consider the long-term needs for efficient conservation of national resources. The Republican Party has a long history of environmental conservation, and this year's convention is excited to emulate Roosevelt's legacy.
To read more about what we are doing here at the convention to implement practical and reasonable green initiatives visit our Web site.
Minneapolis: What are some things that you recommend delegates should check out in our area?
Maria Cino: Minneapolis and Saint Paul are excited to feature 57 museums and more theater seats than anywhere else in the nation next to New York. To read more about local activities and events visit the Minneapolis Saint Paul Host Committee's Web site at MSP2008.com
Minneapolis: What kinds of activities are there for delegates and guests outside of the evening sessions?
Maria Cino: The Twin Cities have a lot to offer in the way of entertainment. You can visit the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Host Committee's Web site for additional information regarding recreation and activities. Visit MSP2008.com
New York: I believe the Census Bureau supports the notion the Twin Cities are the whitest major metropolitan area in the country. How will the GOP find a diverse audience from the local public to provide proper backdrops there?
Maria Cino: The 2008 Republican National Convention looks forward to welcoming 4,600 delegates and alternate delegates, who represent many different states, territories, backgrounds and ethnicities.
We are very lucky to have a diverse group of 10,000 volunteers from various communities throughout the state and local areas who will showcase "Minnesota nice" for the 45,000 convention participants joining us this September.
Washington: What is the modern relevance of conventions? We already know who the candidates will be, and both parties are working on formulating their platforms online. I'm interested in your take on this.
Maria Cino: In addition to the historic tradition of presidential conventions, they are an official forum held every four years that review the rules of our party and officially nominate the presidential candidate.
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