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Cleveland picked for 2016 U.S. Republican National Convention

By Gabriel Debenedetti

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Republican Party’s national convention to nominate a presidential candidate in 2016 will likely be held in Cleveland, the Republican National Committee said on Tuesday.

The site selection panel chose Cleveland over finalist Dallas, and the full committee is expected to approve the choice in August. Democrats have yet to choose a site for their own convention.

Cleveland is in the influential swing state of Ohio. No candidate has won the presidency without winning Ohio since 1960, and Republicans will likely depend on the state once again as they seek to reclaim the White House in 2016.

"As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said when he announced the selection on Fox News.

Republicans held their 2012 event in Tampa, Florida, just before the Democrats' confab in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republican nominee Mitt Romney lost Florida that November, while President Barack Obama, a Democrat, failed to secure North Carolina's electoral votes.

Priebus said Republicans were very interested in improving the party's standing in Ohio.

"It's something we've invested a lot of money in," he said.

Cities bidding to host the convention promoted their financing plans, as well as hotel and transportation options. Political conventions draw tens of thousands of visitors who pour millions of dollars into the local economy.

Before they were eliminated, other contenders to host the Republican event included Ohio's Cincinnati and Columbus, as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix, Kansas City, Missouri, and Denver.

Democrats have yet to choose a site for their own convention, but they have narrowed their options to Cleveland and Columbus in Ohio, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Birmingham, Alabama.

(Reporting by Gabriel Debenedetti; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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