Clout: Is Philly ready for '16 DNC bid?

In August 2000, the city played host to the GOP convention, but these are different economic times.
In August 2000, the city played host to the GOP convention, but these are different economic times. (TOM GRALISH / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: September 07, 2012

PHILADELPHIA was a front-runner to host the Democratic National Convention this year, but Mayor Nutter, concerned about the city's budget troubles, dragged his feet in 2010 and then declined to bid for the event.

Nutter is now cautiously optimistic about holding a Democratic convention in Philly in 2016.

He dodged when asked on MSNBC Thursday morning to speculate about presidential candidates four years from now.

Instead, Nutter offered: "Well, when you want to talk about 2016, you might want to think about Philadelphia, 2016, DNC."

Nutter, fresh from the stage after a convention speech Thursday night, said that applications for the next convention won't be submitted until 2014.

"At the moment, certainly the potential of hosting the 2016 convention is something that I would be very interested in exploring," Nutter told Clout. "We are much, much too early in the process."

Among Nutter's concerns: the millions of dollars the city would spend on security for an event and the fundraising necessary to be a host city. Nutter said that there were "a number of competing interests" for fundraising dollars.

U.S. Rep. Bob Brady, chairman of the city's Democratic Party, was cheerleader-in-chief two years ago for the convention.

The Democratic National Committee was hot for Philly, too.

Then-DNC Chairman Tim Kaine pushed back the bidding deadline for a month t o give Philadelphia more time, Brady said.

Nutter in 2010 told the Daily News that the decision would be easy if the Democratic Party could promise that a convention here "would not cost the city a dime."

Ultimately, the city did not bid, and the convention was awarded to Charlotte, N.C.

"He thought it was a bad idea to have a big showcase when the city was in trouble financially," Brady said. "They were dealing with the finances of the city. He gave me a commitment that he would go full blast for 2016."

Nutter said that the city was probably better equipped now to handle a convention than it was in 2000, when it hosted the Republican National Convention.

"It's certainly something that we can do," he said. "But we don't want to allow our enthusiasm to drive our decision-making."

A nonprofit set up to run the 2000 convention raised $66 million, with $39 million coming from taxpayers in and around Philadelphia. A report compiled by the city after the convention said that it delivered an economic impact of $345 million for Philadelphia and the surrounding region.

Most of the organizing work for a 2016 convention here would be done on Nutter's watch, but the next mayor would be in charge.

Nutter's second term wraps up in early January of that year.

Rendell smells a trap

Nobody roots more for Pennsylvania to be a swing state in presidential politics than does Clout.

But poll after poll shows Obama leading Romney in the quest for the Keystone State's 20 electoral votes. It has been 24 years since a Republican candidate for president won Pennsylvania.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Obama and Romney are not airing campaign commercials in Pennsylvania. The so-called super PACs have pulled their ads off the air here.

"Don't be fooled," former Gov. Ed Rendell warned the state's convention delegation Thursday: "I believe they're laying a little bit of a trap for us."

Rendell's theory: Romney and the super PACs that support him have more money than Obama and the Democrats. They could "come in and blitz the last six or seven weeks" with TV ads if Democrats drop their guard in Pennsylvania.

Rendell also worries that new legislation requiring voters to show state-approved identification at the polling place will cost Obama votes in Pennsylvania.

"You take 100,000 votes away from the total and this gets closer to the margin of error," he said of potential impact of voter ID.

Hobnobber vs. handpicked

Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, the Republican candidate for state attorney general, slammed his Democratic foe, former Lackawanna County Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Kane, for attending the Democratic convention this week.

Freed issued a news release saying that Kane "jetted to Charlotte" and "prefers hobnobbing out-of-state with power-brokers."

GOP state chairman Rob Gleason issued a news release that claimed Kane's "first priority" was to "jet off to sunny Charlotte to join party kingmakers."

Note the disdain Freed and Gleason show for air travel. Maybe if you use phrases like "hobnobbing," a jet still seems like some fancy newfangled contraption?

Kane's campaign manager returned fire, noting that Freed is the "handpicked choice of Tom Corbett and the Republican Harrisburg establishment" who faced no primary opponent.

Freed skipped his party's convention in Tampa last week to campaign in a dozen Pennsylvania counties.

He has motivation to introduce himself to voters. An Inquirer poll last week showed Kane leading Freed 40-29 percent with 31 percent of the voters undecided.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at PhillyClout.com.

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