Milwaukee leaders make final pitch to host RNC in 2024, visit site committee in DC
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee officials traveled to Washington D.C. to make their final pitch to host the Republican National Convention.
Top leaders from Milwaukee and Nashville met with the Republican National Committee's site selection panel for about an hour Tuesday, where both cities touted what they have to offer. The trip comes after the panel and organizers visited each city last month.
The Cream City is vying for another chance to land the big political event after hosting a nearly all-virtual Democratic National Convention in 2020 largely due to the pandemic.
Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson was part of the Milwaukee delegation that traveled to Washington Tuesday. He's confident Milwaukee will win the bid, saying, "We're in a really, really good place in order to win this convention, and I think we will."
Visit Milwaukee president and chief executive Peggy Williams-Smith said the meeting went well and was pleased with their presentation.
"We had a great team who was there and I think it went quite well," Williams-Smith said. "It's an overwhelming experience to sit in a room with people who are going to help decide who's going to be the nominee for the Republican Party."
Visit Milwaukee, members of the Milwaukee delegation, representatives from the city's police department, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus all got a chance to weigh in.
Security, infrastructure and hotel capacity were among some of the competing topics discussed, Williams-Smith said.
Acting Mayor Johnson said, "We're going to pull out all the stops to make sure they have a successful convention that brings hundreds of millions of dollars of economic impact to Milwaukee."
Regardless of party, Acting Mayor Johnson said securing the convention will put money in the pockets of local businesses and benefit the entire city. "We have the commitment of local government, we have the commitment of county government, we have the commitment of state government. Everybody is on the same page."
Milwaukee officials touted their 19,000 hotel rooms, Fiserv Forum and a new expanded Wisconsin Center. Nashville has never hosted a major political party convention but has a popular downtown area that attracts visitors year-round and more than 15,000 hotel rooms.
Johnson and Priebus, who joined virtually, also spent time trying to convince the panel why Republicans should host in the battleground state vs. a safe Republican state.
"My job is to sell the city in terms of what we have to offer with infrastructure, hotels and sell what we get to see every single day, but they [Johnson and Priebus] did a really good job of making the political reason why it should come to Milwaukee."
UW-Madison political science professor Mike Wagner said while hospitality and security are important selling points, he believes the political landscape in Wisconsin outweighs them all.
"Wisconsin is far more important than the result of the next presidential election compared to Tennessee," Wagner said. "This is a state Republicans want to flip back and one they really have to flip if they want to be able to take back the White House."
The stakes are bound to be high as Republicans look to reclaim Wisconsin after a narrow defeat by Joe Biden by about 21,000 votes in 2020. Wisconsin was also the tipping-point state during the 2016 cycle when Donald Trump became the first Republican candidate to win the state since 1984.
Hosting the convention also brings a lot of benefits to the state party, such as fundraising, resources and volunteers.
"It can really help the state party build and if a safe state is chosen, the benefit of that doesn't really help," said Wagner.