Why the GOP is going to Tampa in 2012

Salt Lake City and Phoenix never really had a chance of beating out their rival for the Republican convention

Published May 12, 2010 9:33PM (EDT)

Republicans will descend on Tampa in 2012, as Alex Pareene noted earlier. And yes, it'll be humid and muggy in August there. But was there really any other choice?

The other two sites in the running, after all, were Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Salt Lake City would have seemed risky for the GOP -- Mitt Romney, after all, may well be their presidential nominee. And Romney, like many of the residents of Salt Lake, is Mormon. The church's headquarters and holy places are all over downtown. Did Republicans really want to have thousands of reporters taking tours of Temple Square with young missionaries in between political speeches and writing about the quirkier elements of the church's theology? (Romney, when he ran for president in 2008, kept a low profile when he went to Utah for the funeral of the church's leader.) Besides that, Salt Lake is 80 percent white, which would actually mean the Republican convention might add diversity to the population.

As for Phoenix, its fate was probably sealed when Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed the state's new immigration law last month. Sure, plenty of Republicans agree with the idea of empowering police to demand documents from anyone they suspect might be in the country illegally. But announcing plans to convene there, just as more and more cities announce they're banning officials from spending money in Arizona and pressure builds on Major League Baseball to move its 2011 All Star Game, wouldn't exactly have sent the "¡Republicanos sí!" message some party strategists still hope they can get back to.

So don't bask too much in your glory, Tampa -- you may have won this one by default.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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