ABC News’ Jennifer Hansler reports:
Forget the red carpet—Columbus, Ohio, is rolling out the blue.
With a team from the Democratic National Committee in town to consider the central Ohio city as a possible site for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, residents and city leaders are pulling out all the stops.
Thursday is the city’s last chance to impress the DNC. The day’s itinerary is meant to showcase Columbus’ “championship culture,” according to the Columbus Dispatch. Delegates will tour Ohio Stadium, the home turf of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and may meet with coach Urban Meyer. With the visit to the venue, organizers hope to woo the selection team with the idea of a presidential nominee accepting the nomination there in front of a crowd of 100,000.
And on Wednesday, the city actually staged an entire parade and rally outside of Nationwide Arena to welcome the DNC’s site selection delegation. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the event drew a crowd of about a thousand people. The lively group danced and cheered, waving “#Bring It” and “Welcome to Columbus” signs.
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In attendance at the rally were numerous Ohio Democratic leaders, including former Gov. Ted Strickland, who offered impassioned praise of the city.
“We have the people, we are a diverse people, an inclusive people,” Strickland said. “What a contrast the people of Ohio and the people of America will see as they look at the corresponding different policies that come out of those 2016 conventions.”
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Beth Ervin, Director of Communications at Experience Columbus, one of the organizations coordinating the convention bid, is pleased with the site visit thus far. In an interview with ABC News, Ervin noted the community’s collaboration with and enthusiasm for the bid. She said she is “confident” in the city’s ability to raise the remaining millions of dollars necessary for the convention. Moreover, she believes that Columbus is in a position to be the winning bid. “We’re the swing-y city in one of the swing-iest states,” she said.
Indeed, concerns about winning this battleground state may be a decisive factor. Strickland opined about the necessity of Ohio in his speech yesterday. Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman alluded to a potential presidential loss for the Democrats should the convention go to another city.
“The Republican Party grabbing the convention in Cleveland has the potential of leaving this state to the Republican side in 2016,” Coleman said in an interview with Politico.
Other cities the DNC is considering for the 2016 convention include Birmingham, Ala., Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.