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An Unconventional Contender Emerges As GOP Ponders 2016 Convention

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Every four years a handful of cities battle to host the big nominating conventions for the major political parties. The competition for 2016 has already begun, with a surprising and aggressive player making a bid for the Republican National Convention: Las Vegas.

Certainly it's a place that knows how to host a big convention, but for the GOP to give Vegas the nod, the party will have to look past the city's well-earned reputation as "Sin City."

The Las Vegas 2016 committee is eager to change the idea that the city is not a place a political party wants to be associated with.

In a video, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval makes a political case for the city.

"Nevadans have come from everywhere and found success in coming together. We are stronger because of our vibrant Hispanic, African-American and Asian communities. Our party can and must appeal to everyone," Sandoval said.

Another video includes images of the nearby Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam, kids running on a soccer field, the local NASCAR track and green golf courses — though no photos of slot machines or gambling.

Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki was at the Republican National Committee's winter meetings in Washington this week. He downplayed the need to overcome the image of Sin City and how the RNC could be nervous about unflattering media coverage of delegates out on the town.

"There are opportunities everywhere in the world for behavior that's not believed to be acceptable by folks. We are the global entertainment of the world. Forty million a year come to visit because of our world-class shopping, shows; that is what we are and that's what we represent," Krolicki said.

Other cities making a pitch for the Republican convention include Denver — which successfully hosted the Democrats in 2008 — Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, and Phoenix. But none have had the robust lobbying presence of Las Vegas, which — as with the Vegas Strip itself — sees bigger and bolder as better in luring a political convention.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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