Milwaukee a top 2 finalist for Republican National Convention, according to Politico

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MILWAUKEE (CNN/CBS 58) -- The Republican National Committee has narrowed down the sites for its 2024 national convention to two cities, Milwaukee and Nashville, according to two people familiar with the decision.

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel traveled to Milwaukee on Wednesday for an official site visit, according to one of those people.

Two other contenders, Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh, have been ruled out, this person added. Salt Lake City's main arena will be under renovation and unavailable in 2024, the person said.

"The RNC is very appreciative of the overwhelming interest and competitive bids from cities across the country, especially Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh, to host the 2024 Republican National Convention," RNC senior adviser Richard Walters said in a statement Thursday. "We look forward to entering the final stages of the selection process and delivering an incredible convention for our Party."

Politico first reported the two finalists.

While Nashville is the capital of Tennessee, a reliably Republican state, selecting Milwaukee would put the GOP's 2024 convention in a key swing state. Republican nominee Donald Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016 but lost it in 2020.

"I was skeptical that Milwaukee was really a serious candidate, because the logic of coming here struck me as relatively weak," University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Emeritus Mordecai Lee told CBS 58.

The logic, Lee explained, is that if the RNC comes to Milwaukee, people who voted against Trump in 2020 might vote for the Republican nominee this time around.

"It's amazing to say, but it's true that the presidential candidate who wins Wisconsin will become president," Lee said.

Lee said choosing Milwaukee to host would be a political decision, choosing Nashville would be a financial one.

"Nashville has made an incredibly attractive financial offer. Milwaukee's financial offer is so-so. It's in the ballpark. It's not great," Lee said.

RNC site selection leaders met with Mayor Cavalier Johnson during their visit on Wednesday.

Johnson's office told CBS 58 the mayor is supportive of the effort, and he looks forward to the economic impact the convention would bring.

Visit Milwaukee predicts the RNC would bring about 45,000 people to Milwaukee, leaving $200 million in economic impact, according to Director of Communications Claire Koenig.

"We just feel great about our chances," Koenig said.

Milwaukee was the planned site of the 2020 Democratic National Convention. But due to the pandemic, Democrats scrapped nearly all of the events in that city, opting for a "virtual" convention. The 2020 RNC, meanwhile, was held partly in Charlotte, North Carolina, although the state's Covid-19 restrictions limited some of the events. The prime-time addresses at that convention were instead conducted in Washington, DC.

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