Republicans chose Tampa as the site of their 2012 presidential convention, hoping the swing state of Florida will help them defeat President Barack Obama.
A Republican National Committee panel recommended the Gulf Coast city during a closed-door meeting, rejecting Salt Lake City and Phoenix. The decision came amid calls from Hispanic groups and others to boycott Arizona after it adopted a law to crack down on illegal immigrants.
Florida, with its hefty 27 electoral votes, decided the 2000 election for George W. Bush. Obama won the state in 2008.
"The host committee's hard work and dedication resulted in a tremendous bid that we are confident will produce a successful event," said RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
Presidential hopefuls typically decamp in Florida during the final weeks of a campaign, and nominating conventions dominate local news coverage and help drive the parties' message to voters who might otherwise ignore the formalities.
Republicans met in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2008, hoping to swing Minnesota to the GOP although it went for Obama. Democrats similarly met in Denver in the hopes of making the Mountain West friendly territory. The president won Colorado.
It is a GOP strategy, though, that has worked infrequently. The last time Republicans held a convention in a swing state and won, Ronald Reagan won Michigan in 1980 over Jimmy Carter.
The selection committee's recommendation would still need formal approval when the Republican National Committee meets in August in Kansas City, Mo., but that is considered a given.
The last Republican convention in Florida was in Miami in 1972 when the party nominated President Richard M. Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew.
Associated Press writer Tamara Lush in Tampa contributed to this report.
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