If there’s anything conventional about the wooing of the Republican National Convention to Tampa in September 2008, it’s the sheer predictability that:
*Not everyone will see the Holy Grail of convention coups if Tampa wins out.
*As long as the actor Michael Norton is around to portray Teddy Roosevelt, there can always be a fun video to complement a serious PowerPoint presentation.
*This time Karl Rove won’t be weighing in with patriotic pandering in the form of “Ground Zero” symbolism.
*All those key players who think the GOP “owes us” for opting for New York in ’04 will soldier on and never say so on the record.
*Tampa’s host committee will inevitably find itself in the untenable position of not wanting to talk about a really big piece of public business until evaluations and negotiations with the sotto voce Republican National Committee are over, and the competition with other contending cities (Cleveland, Minneapolis, New York) finalized.
*There will be a blizzard of numbers – from expenses to economic impact.
*There will be arched brows and populist sound bites over the big cost tabs – in this case, an initially estimated $124.4 million. (Approximately two thirds of which — goods and services, rent, employment/staffing — will be spent in the local communities.)
*None of the early numbers will remain the same. Private fundraising will go up.
*There will be political posturing, intrigue and subplots. The color of money isn’t purely bi-partisan green.
*There will be speculation and tea-leaf reading, much of it to no avail.
*There will be an elephant in the living room, but it won’t be the GOP pachyderm. It will be the hurricane season — and the media will be in full, drumbeat-coverage mode during the August site selection visit.
*There will be something more that Jeb Bush could have done.
*Someone in the media will ask why Tampa doesn’t bid on Democratic conventions. (You have to get a Request For Proposal from a party’s national committee before submitting a bid. And it helps to have a coterie of loyalist power brokers and prominent party fundraisers to prompt such RFPs in the first place.)
*Florida Republican finance chairman and host committee chairman Al Austin, the nonpareil GOP fundraiser who’s been a delegate to every Republican convention since 1972, will be prepared to do whatever is necessary to close the deal.