Presidential races

DNC 2016 finalists make last pitches

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The three finalists vying to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention — New York, Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio — are doing their best to make a good final impression on Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Last Friday, Rep. Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) visited the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, the arena where the convention would be held, and met with neighborhood community and business leaders. Afterward, city officials took her to the River Cafe — a restaurant that sits on a barge beneath the Brooklyn Bridge and features floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the water toward Manhattan.

{mosads}There, she mingled with members of the host committee, which includes wealthy Democratic donors along with Mayor Bill de Blasio and lawmakers pushing for the convention to be held in the city’s most populous borough. 

In Philadelphia earlier that week, the chairwoman was welcomed by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a powerful Democratic insider who is a major backer of the effort to bring the convention to Philadelphia in 2016.

And while dining with city leaders in Columbus, Wasserman Schultz was served Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, a Columbus-based brand that produces exotic flavors like Toasted Brioche with Butter and Raspberry Jam, for dessert. Earlier this year, the bid team sent two pints of the ice cream to political reporters who had covered the convention site selection process. 

With just weeks to go before the Democrats choose their convention site, officials are making their final pitches to Wasserman Schultz and the national party with help from D.C. lawmakers.

A day before Wasserman Schultz’s visit to New York, the city announced it had banked $20 million for the convention — which officials said is indicative of the city’s ability to raise the money needed to pay for many aspects of the convention. The city also announced a slate of “host committee” members.

The list of co-chairs of the host committee includes wealthy New Yorkers like Anna Wintour, the editor of Vogue; and Rob Speyer, a New York real estate mogul. Some, like Wintour, are major Democratic donors, but Speyer has donated thousands to Republicans in recent years.

Like New York, Philadelphia has portrayed itself as experienced at holding large events — including the 2000 Republican National Convention — while also pushing its political and geographical benefits.

The bid’s website boasts of the city’s “engaged labor presence” and its proximity to Washington. The city is about an hour and a half train ride from the nation’s capital and less than three hours away by car.

Columbus has portrayed itself as something of an outlier compared to its coastal competition. Its boosters say that it embodies both traditional heartland values and the diverse young coalition of voters that Democrats will need in 2016.

The city has been arguing that it will be more affordable for delegates than either New York or Philadelphia.

Columbus has been reminding DNC officials that is has the additional advantage of being located in a perennial swing state and noting that Republicans are already planning to hold their convention in Cleveland.

“I got the impression that [Wasserman Schultz] loved Columbus and was excited by town’s vibe. Obviously there are a lot of considerations, but all and all I believe she was very impressed,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told The Hill. 

Still, Columbus is considered the underdog by some observers, and at least one supporter wasn’t afraid to throw some elbows.

“Brooklyn is not Manhattan. When you say it’s in New York, it’s a misnomer,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), who delivered remarks at an event during Wasserman Schultz’s visit to Columbus.

“You won’t find boarded up buildings downtown,” she added later, speaking about Columbus. “We’ll breathe new life into the convention.”

Updated at 8:31 p.m.

Tags Brooklyn Columbus Debbie Wasserman Schultz DNC 2016 New York City Philadelphia
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