Cleveland leaves strong impression on RNC Site Selection Committee

CLEVELAND - Very often when cities are up for conventions the decision makers tend to hold their cards close to their chest, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus isn't one of them.

"I’m just totally impressed with Cleveland," said Priebus, who said he knew he would be based on the reaction of the technical committee that visited the city in April.

"The technical team came back and said 'guys you gotta check this out. Cleveland has really done an incredible job,'" he said.

And, so, three months to the day after a delegation from Cleveland braved an East Coast snow storm to head to Washington, D.C. and make it's pitch for the 2016 Republican National Convention the same delegation is playing host to the committee and Priebus who said Cleveland got off to a great start.

"Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do as a committee to determine where we’re going to have the convention," said Priebus. "But I got to tell you the way that this has started in Cleveland, I think the rest of the cities are going to have a lot of work to do."

The 13-member committee toured the new Cleveland Convention Center, Quicken Loans Arena and Progressive Field before heading to University Circle where they toured Severance Hall, the Cleveland Botanical Gardens before hitting the Cleveland Museum of Art for an evening reception that included Gov. John Kasich.

Site Selection Chair Enid Mickelsen said the buildings were impressive but they've found so much more than bricks and mortar in Cleveland, they found heart.

“Lots of cities have the technical requirements as far as an arena and enough work space and that kind of thing. At this point what we are looking for is a city that wants us, that’s willing to work hard at it, that recognizes that this is a long term commitment," said Mickelsen.

"I mean for the next two and a half years we’ve got to be working hand in glove and you have some remarkable people. Anything that we’ve asked about we’ve gotten, all of the information that we asked for and more back. There’s been a lot of innovative thinking things that haven’t been suggested at other convention sites before," she said.

Those comments echoed by Priebus. "What has totally impressed the committee about Cleveland has been the hunger, the commitment and just the willingness to do whatever it takes to make this work."

The convention will start on either June 27 or July 18 depending on which city is chosen. "I’ve already been asked if we could just call the question on this trip and be done," joked Mickelsen.

"Frankly we have not set in concrete what comes next. We have a RNC meeting in August where we would like to be able to present our recommendation and have it voted on and have that city know by mid-August that they are the city," she said. "But we have not said oh we’re going to narrow it down to two… we’re going to see what the committee decides to do after they’ve seen all the options."

From Cleveland the committee will travel to Kansas City on Wednesday with stops next week in Dallas and Denver.

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