Republicans Choose Cleveland As 2016 Convention Site

GOP plans to move up convention to late June or early July.

ByABC News
July 8, 2014, 12:37 PM
The Veteran's Memorial Bridge is seen with the downtown Cleveland Skyline in the background.
The Veteran's Memorial Bridge is seen with the downtown Cleveland Skyline in the background.
Getty Images

— -- The Republican National Committee chose Cleveland today as their city to host the 2016 presidential convention, knocking out Dallas in the final round, they announced today.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus made the announcement on Fox News, calling it a “city that’s on the rise” and calling it a “business decision.”

“In the end it’s Cleveland, Ohio,” Priebus said. “As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race."

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Cleveland is in the always important swing state of Ohio, one critical reason it was chosen, but far from the only one. Denver, Kansas City, Cincinnati, and Las Vegas were all eliminated earlier in the process.

Priebus said today the start date would be either June 28 or July 18.

Dallas may have had more hotels, but the GOP this year is committed to holding the convention earlier to try and eliminate a long GOP primary season full on intra-party fighting, and moving up the date of the convention comes with its own particular needs. One is the possibility that the convention could go into basketball playoff season and sources with knowledge of the decision say it did play into the final selection.

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In Cleveland, the owner of the Cavaliers is also the owner of the Quicken Loans Arena, Dan Gilbert. Sources say if the team goes far into the playoffs they can move their team to another location, but in Dallas American Airlines arena is owned by the City of Dallas so the Mavericks would have a harder time moving their games if they made it far enough in the post-season.

In a conference call today, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman said it went into the decision and Gilbert came up with a plan to make the convention possible, even if the Cavaliers make it to the playoffs.

Moving the convention earlier also allows the party’s nominee to raise more money in the general election.

“The reason that conventions kept getting pushed closer and closer to Election Day was because candidates always took public money and they could always spend the public money between the convention and the actual election,” Priebus said today. “But now, the candidates don’t take this money. So what ends up happening is, a candidate can be broke but they’re not able to raise general election money until the convention is held. So if you have a candidate that’s broke after a primary in May, that candidate is basically a duck in the pond until you get nominated. Therefore if you have an August or September convention, you’re basically sitting there with no money – no ability to raise money. So that’s why we moved the convention back to the end of June, mid-July, so now the whole process can move forward without hamstringing your candidate.”

Dallas was thought to have had the better financial package, but GOP officials visited Cleveland last week for a follow-up visit to assess if the city could make the bid work. Portman said the visit made him think they may have an advantage on Dallas, noting the city was also building more hotels.

Portman said Cleveland is in the middle of a “re-birth” and the city came together in a “non-partisan” way to get the convention, adding he thinks it will help his party in 2016.

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“This is incredibly important for 2016 to be in a state that really matters,” Portman said. “We need to make sure we have a better showing in Ohio than we have in the past two presidential elections.”

He also noted it’s important to make sure the convention is “inclusive” and by choosing a “big diverse city like Cleveland it also sends an important message.”

Cleveland was also one of the six cities up to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. A full vote will come from the RNC next month, they said the decision is “contingent on successful negotiations with the city.”

ABC News’ Caleb Jackson and Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.