Las Vegas a Hard Sell as 2016 GOP Convention Venue

Image: Las Vegas a Hard Sell as 2016 GOP Convention Venue

Sunday, 04 May 2014 09:22 AM

By Elliot Jager

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The country's number one convention destination, Las Vegas, has never hosted a national political convention.

Mayor Carolyn Goodman wants to change that — the city's lascivious reputation notwithstanding — by attracting the Republican Party to hold its 2016 convention in the desert metropolis, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Las Vegas is battling Dallas as well as Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver and Kansas City, Mo. for the opportunity to host the convention. Dallas already hosted the GOP's 1984 convention.

Goodman argues the city offers good weather, security, transportation, and the ability to comfortably house delegates, dignitaries, and media in close proximity to the convention hall.

By way of countering its image, the mayor says sin is hardly the exclusive province of Las Vegas.

Social conservatives say they would be uncomfortable about holding the GOP convention in Las Vegas given its blatantly sexual ambiance.

In a letter to Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus they recently wrote: "In spite of 'family-friendly' outreach in the past decade, Las Vegas remains a metaphor for all things decadent. At a time when the base needs to be motivated, this is no time to mute or offend them in any way."

Billy Vassiliadis, a public relations executive in Las Vegas says the city has undergone a "phenomenal transformation" and that its stigma of sin is "dated."

Two of the city's biggest hotel-casino owners, Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson, are major benefactors to Republican causes. Both are lobbying to bring the convention to their city.

Goodman makes the case that the city hosted over 22,000 conventions in 2013 catering to 5.1 million delegates. "Tourism and conventions. That's what we do," Goodman said, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, in the first three months of this year, tourism to the city has been up 5.3 percent. Some 18 percent of vacationers and conventioneers come to Las Vegas from outside the United States, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported.

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