WASHINGTON (AP) — Recognizing that President Barack Obama faces serious challenges in the Midwest he carried not two years ago, the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday picked three heartland cities and just one in the Republican-friendly South to consider for its 2012 nominating convention.
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The cities are Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Charlotte, N.C.
A presidential nominating convention brings millions of dollars and intense attention to its host city as well as political good will for the party itself. Obama won Ohio, Minnesota and North Carolina in his 2008 race against Republican John McCain, who won Missouri.
With Democrats competing for Senate seats in Ohio and Missouri, the announcement was likely to energize the Democratic base in those states ahead of the crucial midterm elections this year. Even so, putting states in play for possibly holding the convention was not a guarantee for wins there in 2012; McCain held his nominating convention in Minnesota, yet lost the state.
DNC Chairman Tim Kaine announced the finalists in a message to supporters and hinted that Democrats would not assume they would control the White House for two consecutive terms.
"The president, who won the White House in a landslide, now recognizes that his re-election hangs in the balance as an economy flails, joblessness remains high and Republican attacks on him deal political blows," Kaine wrote.
Democrats will nominate their 2012 presidential candidate the week of Sept. 3. The week before that, Republicans will nominate their candidate in Tampa, Fla., a city in a state that will be central to either party's bid for the White House.
Democratic delegates gathered in Denver in 2008 to nominate Obama and in Boston in 2004 to nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.
The nominating conventions, with their pro-party message-making that does little to influence undecided voters, are an economic boon to host cities. In general, the conventions are media events more than electoral ones. Seldom are there surprises; rarely are their shocks.
Democrats had hoped, correctly, that scheduling their 2008 convention in Denver would help their prospects in the Mountain West. Republicans had hoped their Minnesota convention would bolster fellow party members, such as Tim Pawlenty, who occupied the governor's mansion and might have been a GOP vice president.
Now Pawlenty is weighing his own White House bid.
AP National Political Writer Liz Sidoti contributed to this report.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.