Sin City is making a strong play to host the Republican National Convention in summer 2016. So strong, in fact, that attendees of the RNC's winter meeting in Washington can't use the Internet without an advertisement for the city popping up. The Wi-Fi password is even LasVegas2016.
But Ryan Erwin, a consultant working for Las Vegas 2016, says providing free Wi-Fi and a comfy lounge to event attendees isn't supposed to be in-your-face.
"Everybody knows that Las Vegas can throw a wonderful event," Erwin told Whispers. "Rather than doing a big blow-out party and over-the-top event we decided to provide Wi-Fi."
Erwin and other Las Vegas advocates want to open up a conversation about the city, a place they say makes total sense to have the Republican Party's next convention, despite its reputation for gambling, showgirls and — an hour outside the city — legalized sex for sale. "From actual RNC members it's really not as much of an issue," Erwin said. "The reality is, if somebody wants to get in trouble they can get in trouble in any city in the world."
And, in line with Republican Party priorities, Erwin said Las Vegas is a fiscally responsible decision: "We can do it more efficiently and less expensively than anywhere else, it's what Las Vegas does."
Looking back at the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, many delegations were spread as far away as neighboring St. Petersburg.
"There were delegations that spent more than $100,000 just busing their delegates around," Erwin said. "That's $100,000 that doesn't go to voter registration or voter turnout or things that actually help elect candidates." Vegas, meanwhile, has an airport, convention centers and hotels — of all price points —located within a mile of each other.
Las Vegas is going up against a number of cities, including Denver, the host of the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Phoenix, Kansas City and Columbus, all of which lobbied at the RNC meeting. (Though, by Friday, the folks at the Columbus booth had taken off.)
Kansas City made a more traditional play — with a party and free food. Former GOP presidential candidate and Kansas Senator Bob Dole, who is 90, was the guest of honor at a fete held earlier this week. The booth was also handing out locally made coffee and chocolate to conference attendees. Denver's tagline was "Shhh! Do Not Disturb, I'm dreaming of Denver 2016," while Phoenix alluded to a Republican Party rising with its fiery logo.
Additionally, on Friday, the RNC voted to condense the Republican primary schedule, hoping to avoid the kind of infighting that led to Mitt Romney's 2012 defeat. This schedule would allow the 2016 convention to take place in June. A site selection committee will choose the 2016 locale in the coming months. And a final vote on the convention time will be held at a later date.