Democrats choose Philadelphia as site of 2016 convention

AP News
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Posted: Feb 12, 2015 3:41 PM
Democrats choose Philadelphia as site of 2016 convention

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats will nominate their pick to succeed President Barack Obama in Philadelphia next summer, choosing a patriotic backdrop — think the Liberty Bell and the Declaration of Independence — in a state that's voted their way in the past six presidential elections.

The Democratic National Committee said Thursday the convention will be held the week of July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia, which beat two other finalists: Brooklyn, New York, and Columbus, Ohio.

"There is clearly no better city to have this special event than Philadelphia. The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation's history is unmatched," said Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the DNC chair.

The City of Brotherly Love, famous for its roots in the nation's founding, scrumptious cheese steaks and Rocky Balboa boxing films, could be the site where Obama passed the torch to Hillary Rodham Clinton, the leading contender for the party's nomination should she run for president again.

Clinton, a former New York senator, has deep ties to the city and state: Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, twice carried the commonwealth in the 1990s and their family counts ex-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter — key members of the convention's host committee — as allies. During a campaign stop in Philadelphia last fall, Clinton recalled her father's upbringing in Scranton, 125 miles northwest of the city, and summer vacations at a family cottage on Lake Winola, 15 miles farther north.

Philadelphia's organizers plan to hold the convention at the Wells Fargo Center, the home of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers and NHL's Philadelphia Flyers, with events also at the city's convention center.

The Wells Fargo Center is part of a sports complex that includes the homes of baseball's Philadelphia Phillies and the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, giving Democrats the option of staging its final night in the open air. Obama delivered his acceptance speech in 2008 at Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High.

Philadelphia hosted the Republican National Convention in 2000 and the Vatican chose the city as the site for the World Meeting of Families, which Pope Francis is to attend in September.

With Republicans holding their national convention in Cleveland the preceding week, both parties will make their made-for-TV pitches in neighboring states familiar with hard-nose presidential politics.

Democrats have carried Pennsylvania in every presidential election since 1992 but the GOP often covets the state.

Ohio remains one of the most contested states in recent presidential elections and is a linchpin for Democrats. The last Democrat to win the White House without carrying Ohio was John F. Kennedy in 1960, and no Republican ever has.

In recent elections, Democrats have picked battleground states, choosing Denver in 2008 and Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2012. Obama's campaigns used the conventions to register new voters and recruit volunteers.

Electoral politics appeared to be less of a factor this time, with a greater focus on available hotel rooms, transportation, security and fundraising.

Democrats could have chosen Columbus, giving the party a fitting place to respond to Republicans departing Cleveland. Or they could have turned to Brooklyn, where New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a major push to land the convention to promote the city as an urban success story.

Wasserman Schultz said the decision was difficult, but Philadelphia offered the best combination of logistics, security and finances. She denied New York City's recent tensions between the police and de Blasio played a factor.

The convention is expected to cost about $84 million. Lily Adams, a DNC spokeswoman, said the contract "does not prohibit the host committee from accepting corporate contributions," a break from past practices under Obama.

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Associated Press writer Philip Elliott contributed to this report.

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