May 24, 2017
After a 42-year hiatus from hosting a nominating convention, Miami jumps back in to bid for the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Richard Nixon and future running mate Spiro T. Agnew speaking to supporters at the 1968 Republican National Convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
In August 1968, Miami Beach played host to the Republican National Convention—picture Rockefeller girls dancing down Collins Avenue greeting nominees in miniskirts, larger-than-life Uncle Sams on stilts, and elephants roaming the streets. At the convention, Richard Nixon, who had lost the 1962 race for governor of California, made a political comeback defeating Nelson Rockefeller, Ronald Reagan, and George Romney to snag the Republican presidential nomination. The atmosphere at the event was undoubtedly light, despite the political gravitas of the election’s outcome—Nixon’s win that year marked the fracturing of the New Deal coalition, which, with the exception of the Eisenhower administration, had allowed Democrats to dominate Washington politics for 36 years. “There was a lot of excitement,” recalls Lillian Cox, who, at 20 years of age, was on-site as a press assistant for the RNC Communications Department. “It was an opportunity to schmooze and party with people you’ve just seen on TV or had a fight with in Congress.”
In February of this year, Miami officially announced that it would be bidding for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, making this its second run at a nominating convention since hosting two in 1972 (it also pursued the DNC in 2000). If the city meets the Democratic legislative requirements, which vary from labor laws to raising sufficient funds, Miami would conceivably benefit from an influx of tourism and the ensuing economic impact, despite an initial cost projection of $50 million. Plus, Miamians would have a front-row seat at the American Airlines Arena to a significant historical event, as many speculate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be the “Front Runner” for the Democratic presidential nomination.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY STATE ARCHIVES OF FLORIDA, FLORIDA MEMORY