District government officials rolled out the red carpet yesterday for a visiting team of site selection officials from the Democratic National Committee, seeking to lure the party to the city for its 1988 nominating convention.
"There is no other city in the country that can give the Democrats what we have to offer," Mayor Marion Barry said at a news conference after a meeting between the party representatives and District officials.
Later, the party entourage inspected the Washington Convention Center where the quadrennial event -- which is expected to yield as much as $30 million in profits to the host city and its businesses -- would take place.
The news conference, embellished with bouquets of balloons and attended by numerous D.C. officials sporting panama hats that urged "D.C. in '88," also drew Virginia Lt. Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and Maryland Lt. Gov. Joseph Curran, who extolled their respective states and vowed support for the D.C. site.
Nathan Landow, a Bethesda developer who is serving as chairman of the party's 57-member site selection committee, told the gathering that the city "would be a fitting host to any national convention."
"We are delighted that the District of Columbia has expressed such a strong commitment to hosting the convention," he said. "I will do everything that I can to assist the city in presenting the strongest possible bid."
Adding that "no city has the inside track," Landow said that as many as eight cities are expected to submit bid applications for designation as the site. The applications address critical concerns such as accommodations, security, transportation, communications and security. A final decision will be made "late this year or early 1987."
The District's competitors are Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston, Kansas City, Detroit, New York and Brook Park, a suburb of Cleveland, Landow added.
The District has been wooing the Democrats for the 1988 convention since before the party convention in San Francisco in 1984. The District was an unsuccessful contender in the 1984 competition.
Barry, speaking at the news conference, outlined the city's selling points, which include 40,000 hotel rooms in the metropolitan area, three airports, the Metro subway system and a well-equipped police force. In addition, Barry asserted, a convention in the District would save the Democrats money by curtailing travel costs for some party officials and delegates.
Sharon Pratt Dixon, the District's Democratic national committeewoman and treasurer of the party, acknowledged there might be some concern about selecting the District because it is also the nation's seat of government. However, she said, the city's record as a Democratic stronghold could work in its favor.