Former Governor Walker, Priebus help Milwaukee roll out red carpet for RNC selection committee

NOW: Former Governor Walker, Priebus help Milwaukee roll out red carpet for RNC selection committee

MILWAUKEE, (CBS 58) -- The city of Milwaukee took a big step forward toward hosting the 2024 Republican National Convention.

Former Governor Scott Walker and other prominent Republicans helped roll out the red carpet for the RNC's site selection team. The two-day tour wrapped up at Fiserv Forum Thursday.

The selection committee was wined and dined with cheese curds and bloody marys, and lots of Milwaukee swag. The host team said the city sold itself, and they're optimistic.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said, "We're a city that wants them. Wants to show the hospitality that we have. And I will tell you this city put its best foot forward."

The RNC bus hit a lot of stops on its whirlwind tour of Milwaukee, including the Summerfest site, Third Street Market, and dinner at Lake Park Bistro.

But the trip is about more than just fun. Walker said politics are also a major factor because Republicans want to win back Wisconsin. He said, "So those things all being relatively equal and knowing we have the capacity to do it, why not put it in a state where it matters?"

Farrow said the Democratic National Committee's selection of Milwaukee for its 2020 convention helped create the blueprint for this pitch to the RNC. Farrow said, "That really helped us to show we have the ability to provide the security that they're looking for. We have the capacity and the rooms we need. And we're able to set everything up in a way that will be very easily presented to the people as they come to the convention."

Farrow says the finances for the bid are in good shape right now. He didn't give specific numbers, but said lots of people want to help out and the city realizes the potential impact for the region.

And Milwaukee has another weapon: Walker says former RNC Chair and Wisconsin native Reince Priebus is a homer like him, and understands what it takes to hold a convention. "Reince was a part of the dinner and spoke last night. And I think that really is a big factor. He knows the folks, he's familiar with them. And if they have concerns, they're going to turn to him."

But Walker says beyond just having fun, Wisconsin Republicans and the RNC want the convention to be effective. Walker said, "That's ultimately what conventions are about. They aren't just about holding a good party and gathering, they're about helping the nominee of the party, regardless of party, do well. And this would do it."

The site selection committee still needs to visit the other finalists, Salt Lake City and Nashville. Then there will likely be a follow-up meeting in the spring, with a final decision coming later this year.

VISIT Milwaukee and some of its community partners hosted the site visit for the Republican National Convention’s (RNC) Site Selection Committee. The site visit showed off Milwaukee's venues, and RNC event organizers saw how the Greater Milwaukee area would host the 2024 convention.

VISIT Milwaukee said the RNC 2024 would be great for Milwaukee as well, with an estimated economic impact of nearly $200 million and an estimated 45,000 visitors. VISIT Milwaukee said the convention would help all greater Milwaukee-area businesses who serve Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike.

“Milwaukee is pursuing the RNC for the same reason it pursued the DNC,” said Peggy Williams-Smith, President and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, “to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in near-and long-term economic benefit to our restaurants, bars, hotels, shops and venues.”

According to VISIT Milwaukee, hosting the 2024 Republican National Convention has significant short- and long-term impacts by putting Milwaukee on a global stage to accelerate the region’s economic recovery.

Milwaukee’s travel and tourism economy employs more than 50,000 Milwaukeeans who have been hit hard these past two years due to the pandemic.

“We’re so proud that Milwaukee is one of the finalists for the RNC 2024,” Williams-Smith said. “We look forward to showing RNC event organizers all that the community has to offer.”

Milwaukee is one of three finalists for the 2024 RNC, with the two others being Nashville and Salt Lake City. Pittsburgh was recently removed from consideration earlier this month.

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