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Legal Pot Makes Zero Difference In Choosing 2016 RNC City, GOP Argues

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DENVER (CBS4) - Great weather? Check. DNC experience? Check.

Legalized marijuana? Swing state status? That’s irrelevant.

It’s all business, the Republicans’ site selection chiefs maintained on Tuesday when discussing whether a plethora of factors might influence their decision where the GOP will hold its 2016 convention.

“It’s a business decision,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said, noting that the party will largely examine transportation, facilities, logistics, money, security and other relatively mundane factors when picking their spot.

Any hand-wringing over recreational pot isn’t an issue, the committee stressed.

“I’m not a big fan of the law,” Priebus said, “but it hasn’t played a role in this decision.” Rather, electricity loads, sound abatement and other logistics trump sexier factors. “The things we talk about walking around these buildings will probably bore you to tears,” he added.

Nor does the selection committee account for Colorado’s swing-state status.

“I don’t take into consideration blue state, red state, swing state, purple state” Priebus said.

Added Enid Mickelsen, the site selection committee chair: “People always want to read the tea leaves. My job is to make this a business decision. We’re looking at the logistics of putting on a convention.”

Marijuana doesn’t bother her, either.

“I’m a Mormon Sunday School teacher from Draper, Utah,” Mickelsen said. “(But) it makes no difference to me.”

Pete Coors, left, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

Pete Coors, left, and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock (credit: CBS)

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city was thorough in implementing pot’s legalization so that it wouldn’t affect Denver’s brand as a destination for conventions and visitors.

“We believe we’re the best, and we’re the right choice to hold the RNC in 2016,” Hancock said, trotting out past success — “level one events,” he dubbed them — that the city’s held, including the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the 2012 presidential debate, the G8 in 1997 and World Youth Day in 1993.

Money, as it does throughout politics, will play a big role. The city must raise $60 million — or at least have those commitments in place — to win the bid.

“It’s a whole lot of work without a guarantee,” Priebus said. “There’s obviously a bit of dance that goes back and forth between the party and the committee.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Hancock said Denver wouldn’t “lock the city down” and would encourage residents throughout the region to visit the convention and “make this a family affair.” He said an agreement among municipalities would strengthen security by drawing on law enforcement from around the region, alleviating the need to bring outside security to Denver.

Priebus noted a lot of intangibles are working in Denver’s favor; he said his wife had been sending him positive, pro-Denver texts Tuesday morning.

And Mickelsen said Denver’s experience with the DNC, when President Barack Obama accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency six years ago, benefits the city’s bid.

“Not every city is excited to host it again,” Mickelsen said. “The experience that Denver brings to the table is very impressive because you have already been through one of these events.”

No one needs sell the location, she added. It speaks for itself.

“You don’t have to sell me on the West,” Mickelsen said, noting that the committee couldn’t stop looking at the mountains during its visit. “Yes,” she told them, “that’s what we wake up to every day in the West.”

The committee will announce its decision in August.

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- Written by Tim Skillern for CBSDenver.com

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