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Florida leads in national convention bid promoters say

GOP organizers working to bring the 2008 Republican National Convention to Tampa have pulled out all the stops in their effort to lure the biggest pep rally in politics to Florida two years from now, said Sharon Day, Florida National Committeewoman and a member of the selection committee .

The eight-member selection committee visited each of the four cities bidding for the convention -- Tampa, Minneapolis, Cincinnati and New York -- and Tampa's show was the best, Day said. "It wasn't just a homerun. It was a grand slam,'' she told an audience of Republican executives Saturday at the party's quarterly executive board meeting in Orlando.

Organizers considered every detail to make Tampa impress, Day said, including the launch of a fireworks display over Tampa Bay on the final night the selection committee was in town. It read: "RNC 2008.''

But while Tampa may earn points for pizzazz, it loses points because of weather. Republican Party finance chairman Al Austin, and one of the organizers of the convention bid, said national party officials are concerned about the potential of a hurricane bearing down on the Bay area in the midst of a convention. Austin said they brought in the head of the national weather service to address their concerns.

His summary: Tampa hasn't had a major storm in September since 1955 and the odds of one hitting are just 4 percentage points.  "That comes out to just 1 percent a week,'' Austin said.