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L.A. Plans Big Pitch for 1988 GOP Convention

August 13, 1986|JOHN BALZAR | Times Political Writer

The Republicans are sending their scouts to Los Angeles this weekend to begin sizing up the city as a possible, even likely, site for their 1988 presidential nominating convention.

Civic officials have decided on, what else, a Hollywood theme--"We'll make you a star"--to try to sell Los Angeles as the right place to select the next GOP presidential and vice presidential nominees.

Gavin to Raise Money

In keeping with the entertainment industry theme, it was disclosed Tuesday that John Gavin, actor and former ambassador to Mexico, has agreed to head a committee called the Los Angeles Convention Fund. It's job would be to raise $5 million to $7 million in private money to pay for the direct costs of such a convention here.

Ten cities are bidding for the convention, to be held Aug. 15 to 18, 1988. But in some political and civic circles, Los Angeles is believed to be in a favored position. It is widely reported to be First Lady Nancy Reagan's hometown choice for her husband's last convention as President. The Reagans are expected to return to Southern California to live after he leaves the White House.

City convention officials, however, are taking no chances on special treatment and are behaving as though they must win the convention, along with its millions of visitor dollars, the old-fashioned way--with gifts, lavish displays of civic pride and rolls of red carpet.

Republican National Chairman Frank J. Fahrenkopf Jr. and his site selection committee members already have been sent trinkets, such as key chains with movie clapboards and "L.A.'s the Place" sunglasses to prepare them for their official visit, which begins Sunday and continues through Tuesday morning. Fifty-seven women wearing Los Angeles Convention Center uniforms will greet the Republican officials on their arrival. And that's just the start. Los Angeles Visitor and Convention Bureau officials promise "much more" in the way of gifts and entertainment as the group of 21 Republicans tours major hotels and the downtown convention center.

Spokeswoman Nancy Moucha said the GOP's basic requirements call for the host city to have available 20,000 first-class hotel rooms, 300 air-conditioned buses and a convention center to seat 17,000. In addition, she said, the Republican leaders will be looking at such things as security and the availability of restaurants.

Olympics Experience

Because of experience with the highly successful Los Angeles Olympics in 1984, convention officials think they meet any demands of mere politicians with ease.

So far, much of the local energy behind the convention bid is civic, rather than political. Mayor Tom Bradley, the Democratic nominee for governor, is among those scheduled to appeal to the Republicans to come to Los Angeles, even though Democrats here outnumber Republicans by more than two to one.

"It will be helpful to the L.A. economy and with our image as an international city," said Bradley's deputy mayor, Tom Houston. He added that partisan feelings "hadn't crossed the mayor's mind."

Visits Near Completion

The Republican site selection team already has visited Houston, New Orleans, Kansas City, St. Louis, Atlanta and Detroit. On next week's swing to the West Coast, the GOP officials also will visit Seattle and Las Vegas. The following week the Republicans conclude with a visit to Philadelphia.

A decision on a site is not expected from the Republican National Committee before January.

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