John McCaslin

Both houses of Congress, or so it is ordered by resolution, are to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Republican Party.

And, no, that inaugural GOP meeting did not take place on Capitol Hill. Would you believe Ripon, Wis.?

On March 20, 1854, 50 men, three women and a child assembled in a simple frame schoolhouse, now known as the Little White Schoolhouse, to advocate the creation of a new political party under the name "Republican."

Today, the Little White Schoolhouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, designated by the Interior Department a National Historic Landmark on May 30, 1974. Ripon city officials say the schoolhouse, now a museum, attracts visitors from around the world.

GOP PARTY PLANNING

For the first time in its history, the Republican National Committee has selected New York City to host its presidential convention. And while there will be little political suspense in the Madison Square Garden air - what with an incumbent presidential nominee - New York is promising quite the show.

Upwards of 50,000 people, including 4,853 delegates and alternates and 15,000 reporters and pundits, have RSVP'd for the 2004 Republican National Convention Aug. 30-Sept. 2. And nobody is more pleased with the reservations than New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had empaneled a "dream team" of top city Republicans to lobby the RNC for the convention.

The mayor expects the late-summer political powwow to generate more than $150 million for New York City, and to make sure everything proceeds smoothly - taxi service to trash pickup - he has reached agreements with the city's labor unions to sign "no strike" agreements for convention week.

On top of that, Bloomberg has secured more than 22,000 hotel rooms from 50 hotels - 17,000 of the rooms within one mile of Madison Square Garden. Bloomberg is promising almost half of those rooms will be available to convention-goers at an average rate of $156 per night - cheap by New York standards.

DEMOCRATS HEAD TO BOSTON

Democrats will descend on Boston for the 2004 Democratic National Convention starting July 26. It won't be a dainty tea party.

The Republicans may have the glitter of Manhattan, but leave it to Don Mischer and Ricky Kirshner to create an extravagant affair this summer at Boston's Fleet Center.


John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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