PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Big Apple choice appears fruitful for GOP

NEW YORK: After snatching both the White House and Congress, Republicans continued to march into Democratic territory last week by picking New York over New Orleans (site of its 1988 convention, where George H.W. Bush was nominated) and Tampa, FL (brother Jeb's turf) to host the 2004 Republican National Convention. The move is our PR Play of the Week.

NEW YORK: After snatching both the White House and Congress, Republicans continued to march into Democratic territory last week by picking New York over New Orleans (site of its 1988 convention, where George H.W. Bush was nominated) and Tampa, FL (brother Jeb's turf) to host the 2004 Republican National Convention. The move is our PR Play of the Week.

While convention announcements usually garner decent coverage, this one gave the press something extra to chew on. Despite having a three-term GOP governor (George Pataki) and its second consecutive GOP mayor (Mike Bloomberg), the press still sees New York and the national GOP to be a mixture on par with oil and water. In 2000, Al Gore trounced Bush 60% to 35% in the state. The GOP has never held a convention in the Big Apple, where the New York Daily News says Democrats outnumber Republicans by about five-to-one. Still, the pundits say the GOP sees an opportunity to highlight the inroads blazed by Pataki and Bloomberg. The choice also gave the press reason to recall Bush's first post-September 11 New York visit. "Ground Zero is where the US placed its greatest confidence in him," says Henry Miller, COO of Goodman Media and former head of the nonpartisan group that helped lure the Democrats to New York in 1992. "[This] enables the party and media to refocus on that time. With Tampa, the focus would shift back to the Florida election. That's not something the party wants." The tone of the coverage, even from the local press of the also-ran cities, seems to show that the US appreciates the decision's symbolic significance. Although The Baton Rouge Advocate called the decision, "a bit of a blow to New Orleans," the paper agreed with Pataki that the choice sends the message that the city has recovered from the World Trade Center attacks.

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