Let the Wooing Begin
Washington, DC, Jan. 19, 2002  The gift bags contain goodies such as a beanie baby-type red lobster, a CD with music from the Boston Pops Orchestra, and a Gillette® Mach3® razor.  On Friday the Boston Host Committee distributed about 400 of these gift bags to members of the Democratic National Committee attending the party's winter meeting at the Marriott Wardman Park in Washington, DC.  Later, at a host committee reception, hundreds of hungry Democrats enjoyed pan-seared scallop in cauliflower puree with white raisins served in scallop shells, prepared under the direction of celebrity chef Todd English (Olives).
The reason for this munificence?  Boston is one of the cities seeking to host a national nominating convention in 2004.  "We are promoting the city of Boston as the site of the 2004 Democratic Convention," said Howard R. Leibowitz, director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations for the City of Boston, as he and four other staff members (two from the Boston Redevelopment Authority) helped distribute the goody bags.
Although Boston, through its host committee, was the only city to have a presence at this meeting of the DNC, there will likely be half a dozen or more cities competing to hold a convention. The Boston Host Committee is a bipartisan effort; city leaders would be happy to win either the Democratic or Republican convention.  On July 19, 2001, during the Republican National Committee meeting in Boston, the Bostonians hosted a clambake for RNC members at the John F. Kennedy Library.
Leibowitz noted that Boston is the sixth largest media market in the United States and is the hub of New England, which boasts 34 electoral votes.  Mayor Thomas M. Menino, the prime mover of Boston’s efforts to attract a convention, rhapsodized "it’s a real city…it’s part of America’s history."  Boston, Menino said, is also a city of the future, for example in area of medical research.  Responding to a question about whether continuing work on the Big Dig could hamper Boston’s bid, Menino discounted such concerns.  "Boston’s a walkable city," he stated emphatically; the transportation problems delegates experienced during the 2000 convention in Los Angeles would not happen in Boston.  "We have enough hotel rooms to host a convention," Menino added.
Sue Walitsky, a DNC communications staffer who has worked on the past three conventions, noted Boston’s "strong Democratic tradition."  Walitsky said Boston "could host a very good, high quality convention," but she emphasized it is still very early in the process and much work will have to be done to evaluate the merits of the various competing cities.
Boston has never held a major party convention.  The FleetCenter, which opened in September 1995, provides a state-of-the-art venue.  Boston made bids to hold the 2000 conventions and ended up, along with Los Angeles and Denver, as one of the final three cities competing for the Democratic Convention.  On Dec. 13, 2001, Mayor Menino formally re-launched the host committee at a press conference at FleetCenter.
A little more than a month later, Menino is at the reception at the DNC winter meeting making the case for Boston.  As members of the DNC, party staffers, and several dozen community and business leaders from Boston mingle, a woman, who turns out to be a staffer for Sen. Edward Kennedy, walks up and tells him he is “the cutest mayor in the country.”  Having a cute mayor may not help Boston’s bid, but the Democrats are clearly enjoying the food and ambiance. On some of the tables are Boston versions of the Monopoly® board game.  In addition to the central food station overseen by Todd English, there is a Fenway Park theme food station with hot dogs, pretzels, popcorn and peanuts, a Legal Sea Foods station, and more.

The January 18 reception.

Mayor Menino pitches Boston as celebrity 
chef Todd English looks on.
After interested cities submit formal proposals, committees from the two parties will be making site visits.  There will be much wining and dining to come as the interested cities make their cases.
Boston Host Committee National Convention 2004
Gift Bag Distributed at the DNC Winter Meeting in Washington, DC on Jan. 18, 2002
Julie Burns, deputy chief of staff in the Mayor's Office, organized the gift bags using in-kind donations from Boston and New England firms.  She said the objective was "to give people a sense of all the great things we have to offer here in Boston."
1 -8 3/4" long (antenna to tail) beanie baby-type red lobster with Boston embroidered on it and tag
1 -2" "We'll Do More In 2004" button
1 -1.5 oz bag of Cape Cod ® potato chips…The Cape Cod Potato Chip Company, Hyannis
1 -6 oz package of orange flavor Craisins ® (Sweetened dried cranberries)…Ocean Spray ®, Lakeville-Middleboro
1 -Molasses Clove Cookie…Dancing Deer Baking Co., Boston
1 -Bag of Boston Baked Bean Candies…Phillips Candy House, Boston

1 -CD "Encore!" Keith Lockhart conducting The Boston Pops Orchestra ©2000 BMG Entertainment

1 -Gillette ® Mach3 ® razor, including 2 cartridges…The Gillette Company, Boston

2 -Top Flite XL 2000 (Exceptional Spin) golf balls with Boston Celtics logo

1 -"The Complete Boston Subway-User Guide"…WizeGuides.com, Jamaica Plain

1 -Poem "Paul Revere's Ride" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow…Paul Revere House, Boston

1 -Emmanuel College BIC pen

1 -Ticket "Enter to Win the 'Why Wait 'til 2004?' Weekend in Boston"

1 -Seal of Boston, Thomas M. Menino Mayor pin

and an invitation card for the evening reception.

Copyright 2002 Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action