Brooklyn has rolled out the red — make that blue — carpet for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, taking committee members on a glitzy whirlwind tour while stressing the city's liberal politics, sense of spectacle and experience in hosting major events.
More than a dozen members of the Democratic National Committee's Technical Advisory Group — which is also considering four other cities — began their two-day New York City tour Monday with a rally in front of the gleaming downtown Brooklyn arena, which would host the event.
Sen. Charles Schumer, whose boosterism of his home borough knows no bounds, stressed that Brooklyn's hip image would lend youthful cache to the party's eventual nominee.
"We are in touch with our future generations and future needs," the New York Democrat said. "Millions of Americans, new Americans, young migrating Americans are flooding here to eat, think, create, laugh, love and work in an environment that is tolerate, fertile and exhilarating."
Schumer and several other city officials, including Police Commissioner William Bratton and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, stood on the appropriately hued carpet as they made their pitch for Brooklyn, which has at last moved out of the shadow of its glamorous neighbor Manhattan. Mayor Bill de Blasio planned to host dinners for the committee Monday night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Tuesday at Gracie Mansion.
His administration has tried to quell criticisms that Brooklyn does not have enough hotel rooms for the more than 30,000 expected convention-goers, saying that the hotels in Manhattan are closer to the arena than many of the hotels serving recent convention cities, like Charlotte, North Carolina, were to their event sites.
A de Blasio spokesman said that, by using a dedicated traffic lane, it only took the delegates 13 minutes to travel the eight miles from their Midtown hotel to the arena.
The New York host committee has also stressed the public transit options to the Barclays Center — several subway lines and a commuter railroad stop under the arena — and its experience in hosting recent events, such as the MTV Music Video Awards, the Tony Awards, and the Major League Baseball All-Star game.
Those events, however, did not come with the Secret Service security that the DNC will. At conventions in other cities, scores of blocks around the convention site were "frozen" and off-limits to vehicles and, often, pedestrians.
Peter Ragone, a senior adviser to de Blasio, did not directly answer a question how traffic would navigate the frozen zone or if the Secret Service would permit the subway station underneath to stay open when the party's nominee, or President Barack Obama, was on site. But he said the city's had a "longstanding relationship" with the federal agency because they often safeguard international leaders who visit the city.
Brooklyn is considered one of the favorites to land the convention, along with Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio. Both of those cities are situated in swing states, which have hosted the majority of conventions in recent years (although Schumer was quick to dismiss the idea that Pennsylvania, which last went for the Republicans in a presidential election in 1988, was a swing state). Also vying for the 2016 convention are Phoenix and Birmingham, Alabama.
The DNC committee will travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday and is expected to make a decision by early next year. The White House is also expected to have input in the choice and a report in The New York Times suggested that ex-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the presumptive 2016 front-runner if she runs, would sign off on Brooklyn.