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Kansas City Leaders Hoping To Woo Republican Convention Scouts

Elle Moxley

City leaders spent Thursday courting a delegation from the Republican National Committee in hopes of a securing a bid for the 2016 convention.

So far, the RNC is impressed.

"We've had children out to lead us in the pledge of allegiance. We had the high school band out on the tarmac to greet us. We had another young lady who just sang beautifully for us," says former Utah Congresswoman Enid Mickelson, the chairwoman of the site selection committee. "Those are the kind of traditional values clearly you have in Kansas City, and we think are important to spotlight."

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus says at this point, his team is looking at three things: The hotels, the arena and the money. He says all four of the cities under consideration – Cleveland, Dallas and Denver are also vying for the convention – are serious contenders.

The convention would be sometime in summer 2016, though no date has been set yet.

"In the when question, Kansas City has a nice advantage, which is that they can give us a June date or a July date," says Priebus. "There's just no way around it. It's a nice nugget that Kansas City has in its back pocket that not everyone has."

Priebus thanked Mayor Sly James, a Democrat, for his help in assembling a bipartisan bid task force to bring the convention to Kansas City.

"Especially the way politics works today, when it does happen like you're seeing here in Kansas City, I think it's something that's special," he says.

Hosting the RNC would be a big economic win for the city, but it requires a lot of cash up front – $50-60 million. So far, Kansas City has raised about $30 million in cash and in-kind contributions.

All things being equal, Mickelson says it will come down to which city can help the RNC best tell its story to the American people.

"We're in a situation where Kansas City wants to reintroduce itself to the country in some ways," says Mickelson. "The Republican Party, we would like to keep reintroducing ourselves and letting people find out who we really are. We think when you find out who we really are, you like us."

Mickelson says the RNC will likely decide which city should host the convention in August.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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