Republicans Pencil In Tampa For 2012 Convention

Republicans appear headed to Tampa, Florida, to make the formal selection of their presidential candidate to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

The Republicans have picked Tampa for their 2012 presidential convention.

Losing out were Salt Lake City and Phoenix.

The choice by the selection committee Wednesday still needs formal approval from the full Republican National Committee in August, but that is considered a formality.

Florida is a swing state in presidential elections with a hefty 27 electoral votes.

The last Republican convention in Florida was in Miami in 1972 when the party nominated President Richard Nixon and Vice President Spiro Agnew.

Associated Press writer Tamara Lush in Tampa contributed to this report.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) — Tampa appeared to be the Republicans' top choice for their presidential nominating convention in 2012 ahead of a Wednesday vote, one of the first steps in the GOP effort to defeat President Barack Obama.

Republican National Committee members planned to pick among Tampa, Salt Lake City and Phoenix. All made high-profile pitches to the selection committee and each city had its backers. But ahead of the 2 p.m. EDT vote, the Tampa convention and visitors office invited reporters to their offices — an acknowledgment the deal was almost certain.

Officials meeting here near Washington also anticipated Tampa's bid would be successful because of its location in a perennial swing state where presidential hopefuls decamp in the final weeks. Nominating conventions dominate local news coverage and help drive the parties' message to voters who might otherwise ignore the formalities.

Florida was the deciding state in the 2000 presidential election, giving the presidency to George W. Bush over Al Gore. In 2008, Obama won Florida.

Republicans met in Minneapolis-St. Paul in 2008, hoping to swing Minnesota to Republican hands. Democrats similarly met in Denver in the hopes of making the Mountain West friendly territory.

It is a GOP strategy, though, that has worked infrequently. The last time Republicans held a convention in a swing state and won, Ronald Reagan won Michigan in 1980 over Jimmy Carter.

The selection committee's recommendation would still need formal approval from the full Republican National Committee in August. Officials emphasized that committee members could surprise the GOP with another choice.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.