GOP Rejects Phoenix, Columbus for 2016 Convention

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And then there were six.

Two cities - Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio- were eliminated today from the running to host the GOP convention in 2016 after "a painstaking review," according to the Republican National Committee.

The six cities that will advance to the next round are Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas.

"In any other year, Columbus and Phoenix could have topped the list, but with so many strong cities competing, the committee had to make the difficult decision to narrow the field," said Enid Mickelson, chairman of the Site Selection Committee.

A small team of RNC staffers will visit the six advancing cities to evaluate venues, hotels and financing in the coming weeks. The committee will make one more cut in mid-May before going on official visits to the final cities.

These six cities are jockeying to host what is usually the coronation ceremony for the party's 2016 presidential nominee. The huge event requires immense planning, but can also give a boost a city's local economy.

Mickelson and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus have previously said that trimming the list of cities would be no easy task.

"The amount of interest, the level of interest, the preparedness of these cities have been extraordinarily impressive, and honestly, make the decision very difficult as we move forward," Priebus said.

"I realized my job is a lot harder than I thought it was," Mickelson said. "We have eight very strong cities to consider. That's going to take us a little while longer than if it had been a couple of strong ones and the rest were weak. That's not what we have."

Las Vegas has been seen as a frontrunner throughout the process, despite its Sin City mantra that clashes with the party's religious base. Despite the end of Columbus's bid, the critical swing state of Ohio still has two cities - Cincinnati and Cleveland - in the running. And Dallas, the host of the 1984 GOP convention, has shown its strong financial position with $40 million on hand already.

Each city presented to the GOP's Site Selection Committee earlier this year, outlining their resources and infrastructure for hosting the event.

"It is an extraordinary process for these cities to have to review all of the information that they have to look into, whether it's hotels, transportation, security, their venue [or] having a media workspace," she said. "There is no other event really like this."