Mayor Marion Barry yesterday told members of the Democratic Party's site selection committee that Washington is the "logical" place to hold their party's 1984 national convention.
But after two days of reviewing bids from five cities, many members of the site selection committee appeared to be gazing westward to San Francisco or Chicago as the probable spot for the next convention.
A knowledgeable member of the site-selection panel said yesterday that "there's not much enthusiasm" for holding the convention in Washington or Detroit and that some committee members have not responded well to New York Mayor Edward I. Koch's presentation for his city Tuesday.
"It's now between San Francisco and Chicago," that committee member said.
Moreover, a CBS-TV poll of members of the Democratic National Committee, taken the first week in February, showed that San Francisco was favored by 46 percent, Chicago was picked by 11 percent, New York 8 percent, Washington 7 percent and Detroit 6 percent.
Some D.C. officials acknowledged privately that Washington stands little chance of snaring a major political convention the first time out, but they believe the city will gain experience and national exposure that will help in future bids.
Yesterday the city made an elaborate, well-orchestrated presentation to the site-selection committee and offered the party a package of financial inducements totaling $7.8 million, the largest offer made.
The package includes $1.68 million to be contributed to the party by a committee of local businessmen and civic leaders, police and security services valued at $1.2 million, bus transportation worth $993,000 and $200,000 in defrayed rental costs.
"We are such a logical choice that I'm sure most of you never gave much thought to Washington as the site before we decided to make this strong bid," said Barry, who headed a large cadre of area public officials and business and labor leaders promoting the city's case.
In comparison to Washington's package, Detroit offered a total of $6.9 million, San Francisco offered $6.5 million, New York offered $5.4 million (but virtually no funds for security), and Chicago pledged $6 million.
Washington officials promised to exceed the Democrats' minimum requirements for first-class hotel rooms, convention center meeting space and bus transportation for delegates.
The city also revised its bid yesterday to guarantee there would be at least 20,800 seats available for convention-goers in the city's new Convention Center. The original bid called for only 17,651 seats--well below the 20,000-seat minimum set by the national party.
Police Chief Maurice Turner assured the site selection panel that security would not be a problem in Washington, which has vast experience in dealing with large demonstrations and events.
"The convention you're planning next year will only be a rehearsal for what we do at the Inauguration in January 1985," Turner said.
The large contingent of area leaders who took part in yesterday's presentation included Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Maryland Lt. Gov. Joseph Curran and Virginia Lt. Gov. Dick Davis.
Mayor Dianne Feinstein presented San Francisco's case to the site-selection panel yesterday, while Detroit was represented by Mayor Coleman Young and Gov. James Blanchard.
Feinstein promised that San Francisco's famous cable car system would be back in operation in time for the convention. She also sought to allay concerns that demonstrators might disrupt a convention held in San Francisco.
"Yes, we will probably have some demonstrations," she said. "But I think from the intelligence I have that they will be limited in scope."