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Sin & the GOP

Las Vegas tourism officials are in Washington, D.C., in hopes of luring the Republican National Convention to Las Vegas for the next convention. Some conservatives may not be persuaded.

Will “subtle” strategy work in Washington?

The sinners are trying to seduce the conservatives. Las Vegas officials are meeting with representatives of the Republican National Committee in an attempt to bring the 2016 GOP national convention to Vegas. And they are using a new, subtler marketing strategy to make the point that Vegas is not all about forbidden pleasures.

Las Vegas is competing with Denver, Kansas City and a number of cities in Ohio to host the convention, which will nominate the Grand Old Party’s next candidate for president. And its presentation has been markedly subdued. A promotional video showcases the town’s 150,000 hotel rooms, golf courses and sunny weather, and doesn’t emphasize Vegas’s other, more salacious attractions.

“Las Vegas is truly the only city in the world that’s evolved to host people; we’re exceedingly good at it,” Nevada Lieutenant Governor Brian Krolicki told the Las Vegas Sun. “This is what we do.”

Krolicki is chairman of the Las Vegas 2016 committee, which has stormed the RNC’s winter meeting with a setup that includes two Wifi hotspots, complimentary coffee bars, and gift bags stuffed with souvenirs and mock 2016 delegate badges.

Finalists to host the convention will be named in February.

Of the low-key, glitz-free approach, Krolicki said, “I don’t think there’s any question in any of the RNC members’ minds that Las Vegas is more than capable of hosting an event of this kind. So we thought a better presence was a sustained one. We’re hosting people; this is part of what we do, with subtle gestures of hospitality.”

“Vegas has pitched us earlier and more aggressively than any city since I’ve been on the committee,” RNC committee member Henry Barbour told the New York Times.

Gaming magnate and Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, who spent at least $98 million on Republican candidates in 2012, is part of the big push.

And Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman dismissed assumptions that Republicans would shy away from a state known for gambling, topless revues and legal prostitution.

“There’s sin everywhere—we all know that,” said Goodman, a former Republican who turned Democrat and then declared herself an independent. “The thing is, we are in close proximity to top five-star dining, top shopping. And the most important thing: the weather.”

Another plus for Las Vegas: it is in an electoral battleground state, which Republicans would like to win back after losing the last two presidential elections. Nevada also has a Latino population of 30 percent, and both parties are actively courting the Hispanic vote.

Las Vegas is known as the convention capital of the United States. With 150,000 hotel rooms within a single square mile, it could easily handle the approximately 50,000 delegates and other participants expected to attend the convention.

Despite its many charms, Las Vegas may not be able to entice some Republicans. “It’s Vegas—it’s known for anything but wholesome,” said Tamara Scott, a Christian conservative and Iowa’s Republican committee chairwoman. “I have reservations as soon as I hear the word ‘Vegas.’”