'We're tickled pink': Milwaukee leaders excited to welcome President Biden to Pabst Theater

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee's Pabst Theater will soon take center stage in living rooms across America, as CNN's town hall with President Joe Biden once again puts the city in the national spotlight.

City leaders said they are glad to welcome the president next week to the Pabst Theater. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called it an "honor" to host the president.

"He wants to come to America's Heartland, and we're tickled pink that he's chosen Milwaukee," Barrett said.

The town hall will be invitation only, and the audience will be socially distanced. It will be broadcast live from the Pabst Theater at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

"It was built in 1895. It's the fourth oldest operating theatre in America. It's a national historic landmark," said Gary Witt, CEO of the Pabst Theater Group.

Witt said he found out Friday that his theater would get the opportunity to host the town hall.

"Milwaukee needs to fight to be able to gain access to the national airwaves and get people to understand who we are, what we are," Witt said. "We don't get these opportunities all the time. You got to embrace it, hug it, squeeze it, love it. You need to embrace the fact that something great like this is happening in our city."

CNN says the president will answer questions about a number of key issues, including the pandemic and the economy.

Biden was last in Milwaukee in October, when he spoke at Mitchell International Airport just days before the November election.

Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee, said it's a testament to the city's vaccine rollout and Witt's leadership that Biden is coming back to Milwaukee so early in his presidency.

"Gary Witt has been a leader in advocating for the live events industry not just in the greater Milwaukee area but throughout the entire world," Williams-Smith said.

Biden did not come to Milwaukee for the scaled-down Democratic National Convention over the summer.

"I don't know whether (the town hall) has anything to do with the convention. Quite honestly I'm just happy he's coming. I'm very, very happy that he's chosen Milwaukee, and we're looking forward to hosting him," Barrett said.

Witt said the theater has a good relationship with CNN, and he believes that also contributed to the theater hosting the town hall. The Riverside Theater hosted a town hall with CNN in 2016.

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