What do you get when you take the sin out of Sin City?
The host city for the coronation of the 2016 Republican Presidential nominee — at least that’s what Las Vegas leaders tried to sell to the Republican National Committee this morning.
“We’re not just all blackjack dealers and pawn shop operators,” said Bob List, former governor of Nevada and member of the Republican National Committee. “We took [the Sin City image] head on. It’s what one person called the elephant in the room.”
Las Vegas is one of the eight cities competing to host the convention, an event that can strain a city’s transportation system, finances and hotel accommodations, not to mention the huge arena necessary to host the presidential nominating process.
But Las Vegas has already been aggressively selling its campaign behind the scenes for weeks, talking with committee members about what their city brings to the table.
“It’s all about the ask,” List said. “We know who we’re going to. We have the names. And candidly, there are only two ways to twist arms: clockwise and counterclockwise.”
While List heralded tourism, conventions and business meetings as strong points for the city, he distanced himself from the overwhelming casino presence in the desert, which may clash with the moral positions of the Republicans’ conservative Christian base.
“The Sin City image, some have been concerned about that,” List said. “But we’re an all-around city with a fast-growing population of Catholics and Jews and Hispanics. It’s a big metro area.”
Holding the convention in Las Vegas may also give the Republicans a boost in an effort to win Nevada, a state Democrats have won in the last two presidential elections.
But Republican chairman Reince Priebus isn’t putting much stock in which state plays host.
“There’s not a great history of turning states for a particular party just based on where the convention is held,” Priebus said.
Las Vegas officials are selling the city’s compact geography as a top strength, one that sets it apart from other cities on the vital issue of transportation.
“You can see every hotel practically from the airport or the convention center,” List said. “We’ll have a cleaner, more modern, safer experience for our delegates than any other city we’ve been in.”
“We’re all in,” added Brian Krolicki, the state’s lieutenant governor and chairman of the city’s 2016 bid. “We believe in it. We don’t think any other city on the planet can match what we have to offer.”
Cincinnati and Dallas also presented their bids today.
Dallas boasted that it had already raised $40 million for the bid, but scheduling problems for sharing stadium space with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks may hurt their chances at hosting the convention.
“Las Vegas is a very, very tough competitor in this,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, the only city whose mayor showed up on today. “But all those cities are going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough choice.”
Columbus, Kansas City, Denver, Phoenix and Cleveland presented at an earlier date.
Republican officials said the list will be narrowed down to two or three by June, with the winner set to be announced by August.