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Philly To Host GOP 2000 Convention

November 6, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Philadelphia was selected Thursday for the Republican National Convention in 2000, landing its first presidential nominating convention since 1948.

The GOP selection committee picked Philadelphia over Indianapolis, New Orleans, New York and San Antonio. Three other cities, Chicago, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C., were dropped earlier in the process.

``The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall will make a compelling backdrop for nominating a president and promoting our party’s vision for a better America in the 21st century,″ GOP National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson said.

``It’s an indication of just how far the city has come in the last half-decade,″ Democratic Philadelphia Mayor Edward Rendell said, arm-in-arm with Republican Gov. Tom Ridge at a City Hall news conference. Rendell wore a tie that featured on it elephants _ the traditional symbol of the GOP.

``I guess its fair to say we’re no longer a footnote between New York and Washington D.C.,″ Rendell said as a champagne bottle was cracked in celebration.

The decision is subject to approval by the RNC membership in January, but that was considered a formality.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles is almost certain to be the Democratic convention site, officials close to the decision-making process said.

Because a presidential convention can bring a city millions in revenue and tremendous media exposure, the selection of Philadelphia was a big victory for the Democrat Rendell.

The GOP controls both U.S. Senate seats and the Legislature. Also, Pennsylvania has 23 electoral votes, one-twelfth of the number needed to win the presidency, and has picked presidential winners since 1972.

The choice also has historic meaning for the GOP, because in 1856 Philadelphia was the host of the first Republican convention. In 1948, both the Republicans and Democrats held their conventions in Philadelphia, nominating Thomas Dewey and Harry S. Truman.

Since then, however, Philadelphia hasn’t had adequate facilities to play host. That changed with the opening of the First Union Center, which can seat up to 21,000 and was designed with TV in mind. More hotel rooms are also being constructed.

In wooing the GOP, Philadelphia cited the city’s rich history as well as the arena’s proximity to an airport, interstate highways and the subway.

``It means so much in terms of economic revenues, but more importantly what happens at the convention is you get thousands of media people who get exposed to the renewal that’s taking place here in Philadelphia,″ said Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat. ``That kind of publicity is priceless.″

As for the Democrats, Denver and Boston are still in the running, mainly because one party co-chairman, Roy Romer, is from Colorado and the other one, Steve Grossman, is from Massachusetts.

But officials said party leaders are strongly leaning toward Los Angeles because vote-rich California is critical to the Democrats’ White House strategy.

Philadelphia withdrew its application for the Democratic convention after being selected by the GOP.

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