DNC Chair: Philadelphia’s Bid For 2016 Convention “Unmatched”
Well, those and the Liberty Bell.
“The mayor made sure the chairwoman got to visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall,” former Gov. Ed Rendell said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. “The chairwoman got to touch the Liberty Bell.”
Without missing a beat, Wasserman Schultz responded, laughing, “That was an absolutely incredible experience.”
News broke Thursday morning about Philadelphia hosting the 2016 Democratic convention. The city beat out fellow finalists New York City and Columbus, Ohio, for the bid.
“The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched,” Wasserman Schultz told reporters. “What is also unmatched is the comprehensive plan the city put together.”
The chairwoman acknowledged that Philadelphia had the resources to provide delegates with the best possible experience, a key factor in this year’s decision.
Philadelphia boasts more than 11,000 hotel rooms just within the city’s center, said the city’s Mayor Michael Nutter, who joined Wasserman Schultz and Rendell on the call. Wasserman Schultz noted the 18,500 hotel rooms within just a 15-minute walk of the Wells Fargo Arena, where the convention will be held.
Philadelphia has not hosted a Democratic convention since 1948, when Harry Truman was nominated. In 2000, the city hosted the Republican National Convention that saw the nomination of George W. Bush. Then-Mayor Rendell spearheaded the bid for that convention.
Rendell led the the effort to bring a nominating convention to Philadelphia again, heading the PHLDNC2016 host committee. When Nutter’s mayoral term expires at the end of this year, he will join Rendell as co-chair of the committee.
In addition, former Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz will be a leader of the host committee. Rendell’s close confidant (and Comcast Executive Vice President) David L. Cohen will serve as a senior advisor.
The process to host the 2016 convention began several years ago, Nutter said. He recalled turning down the opportunity in 2010 to bid on the 2012 convention, after which he signed a letter “that we would be first in line seeking the 2016 convention.”
In 15 years, the city has evolved. Nutter cited the upgrade to the Wells Fargo Center, the expansion of other city centers and the increased level of coordination among city staff.
“Just the things that we’ve been able to do in the past 15 years…everything has led us to this moment,” Nutter said.
And Philadelphia will carry with it lessons learned from the 2000 Republican convention. The city will use the same transportation efforts as in 2000, Rendell said, to get delegates to and from the convention center quickly.
The former governor also acknowledged lessons the city learned in security from the 2000 convention.
“We had a lot of demonstrators in Philly, and by and large, we handled them well,” Rendell said.
Smaller details from the 2000 Republican convention will be replicated, as well. Rendell noted that the city now knows which areas delegates will prefer to gather and will prepare those areas and restaurants.
“Our delegates aren’t quite as wealthy as the Republicans were, though,” Rendell joked, adding that different restaurants may be popular with the Democratic crowd.
Rendell acknowledged that the biggest question the Philadelphia host committee faced was whether it would be able to raise the money to run a successful convention. The committee put an $84 million budget in its bid, and Rendell is confident the city can meet that.
“The Republican National Convention in Philadelphia is probably regarded as the most successful convention in recent years, and we raised $64 million for that,” the former Governor said.
According to Rendell, the host committee had placed $5 million in a bank account that has been turned over to the DNC. Adding pledges already made, $17 million has been raised thus far.
In addition, newly elected Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to match what former Gov. Tom Ridge raised for the Republican convention in 2000.
“We are fully prepared and fired up here in Philadelphia,” Nutter said. “We’re going to have a rocking good time. The momentum in Philly, you can feel it.”
Even for the Republican convention 15 years ago, the heavily-Democratic city “was on fire.”
A six-time delegate at the Democratic conventions, Wasserman Schultz said she is confident Philadelphia will provide the setting for delegates to feel excited and unified behind the eventual Democratic nominee. The historical significance of the city is an added bonus.
“The world watches what happens in American politics,” Nutter said. “The world will be watching in 2016 … Someone new will be president of the United States.
“The eyes of the world will be on Philadelphia as a part of this process.”