WASHINGTON — Republicans will be nominating their 2016 standard-bearer for the White House in Cleveland.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced Tuesday that Cleveland beat Dallas to host the party's 2016 convention, which could bring millions of dollars to the Ohio city.
"We're excited about bringing the convention to Cleveland and Ohio," Priebus said on Fox News, as he discussed the city's downtown renaissance. "It's a smart decision."
The recommendation by the GOP's site selection committee will be voted on in August, and the 2016 start date of July 28 or July 18 will be finalized as the committee completes negotiations with Cleveland representatives.
"For the first time since 1936 we're going to have an opportunity to showcase our great state and our city of Cleveland," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a conference call Tuesday. The RNC "couldn't have picked a better city to demonstrate what our party's all about," he said, adding that Cleveland is the midst of a "rebirth."
"We're in the heartland. We're also on the road to the White House," Portman added.
While winning Ohio is key to winning the White House, Priebus put a premium on convention logistics — including venues, hotel rooms and transportation — over politics in choosing a site. No Republican has won the White House without winning Ohio since Abraham Lincoln in 1860.
In his Fox News interview, Priebus said the choice was a "business decision." There were numerous complaints during the 2012 convention in Tampa of delegates waiting in long lines to board buses to their convention hotels, and then having to drive up to an hour after events were held at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Priebus also strongly urged moving the GOP convention to late June in order to give the nominee earlier access to general-election campaign funds. In 2012, Mitt Romney clinched the Republican nomination in May but couldn't use millions of dollars in money set aside for the fall campaign until after he was officially nominated in August.
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The timing of the convention was a factor in the GOP's decision-making. Both Cleveland and Dallas are home to professional sports teams, and basketball or hockey playoffs are possibilities. Cleveland had said it could make Quicken Loans Arena, home to the NBA's Cavaliers, available in time for a late June convention start. But Dallas, which proposed the American Airlines Center, offered the GOP dates in July out of consideration for the NBA's Mavericks and NHL's Stars.
Fundraising is also a concern. Cleveland organizers told the RNC before its final site visit last week that it had already secured financial commitments of $25 million towards what is expected to be a $60 million tab.
The 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa.(Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)
The 2012 GOP convention resulted in a total economic impact of $404 million to Tampa, according to a University of Tampa study. More than 50,000 Republican delegates, party officials and reporters converged in Tampa for the convention.
Republicans also received convention host proposals from Denver, Cincinnati, Columbus, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Phoenix.
With Cleveland now the GOP's choice, the city is expected to withdraw its bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Democratic officials will spend the summer visiting Birmingham, Columbus, New York City, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen