“If you start to take Vienna,” Napleon famously counseled, “take Vienna.”
I spent this past Saturday morning touring the new convention center — on Twitter @clevemtgs — built on the lakefront across from the Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium, the Great Lakes Science Center and, of course, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. The lakefront sparkles as does the whole downtown.
The convention center, which would host the media stiffs, contains hundreds of thousands of square feet of exhibition space, meeting rooms and ballrooms, and is a mere 10 minute, 0.9 mile walk from Quicken Loans Arena, where the formal proceedings would be gaveled in, a walk that goes down 4th street past the House of Blues and scores of restaurants and bars that would no doubt be second home to the scribblers and Tweet legions. Beautiful new hotels are already open and more rising and stately old ones as well, and the Tower City Center — soon no doubt to be the Manziel Center — brings the city’s excellent red, green and blue lines into the heart of the center, providing the mass transit for further out delegations that St. Paul, Minn., and Tampa Bay, Fla., lacked in 2008 and 2012 respectively.
Mark Waters, head of security at the new convention center, dropped everything to walk my brother, nephew and me around the new digs where the town’s big draft party had been two night before. “Nobody gets how beautiful downtown is until they come downtown,” he stressed, and indeed it was a gorgeous May morning which is the city’s best season. Even the statute of Moses Manziel, er, Moses Cleveland shined. As did the city’s famed Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, full of dramatic bronze reliefs of Abraham Lincoln, the party’s first successful nominee, who also inherited a mess.
Progressive Field and FirstEnergy Stadium has a hundred party venues within them, as do Public Auditorium, the old library, and Key Tower. The vast Horseshoe casino isn’t the Venetian, but its a fine diversion as well, and the Nevada delegation will feel at home.
Mostly though, Ohio and its very successful governor, John Kasich, have a great story to tell, about new jobs, lower taxes, smart development of the vast new energy supplies beneath the ground, and repurposing of the old manufacturing infrastructure. Charter schools have gotten a boost from the Buckeye State’s peripatetic governor, and the state’s university system and web of excellent small colleges is pumping out the labor force of the future.
The GOP Convention Site Selection Committee doesn’t have to make an easy decision hard. Take the mass transit, the new facilities, the fun stuff and of course Johnny Football and make Cleveland the convention site and get the planning underway.
Then-Gov. George W. Bush carried the state by 4 percentage points in 2000, and President Obama by 3 in 2012 — trumping Mitt Romney by slightly more than 166,000 votes. No GOP nominee has ever won the presidency without winning Ohio.
If you want to take 1600 Pennsylvania, take Cleveland. And have great time doing so.