COLUMBUS -- Democrats rolled out the blue carpet in Ohio's capital city Wednesday, welcoming a delegation from the Democratic National Committee in town to consider potential sites for the party's 2016 national convention.
Members of the latter were treated to a juggling unicyclist, a talking mime, an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, a troupe of costumed performers on stilts and a handful of mascots from the area's professional sports franchises.
There were also several hundred attendees at a rally outside a downtown sports arena who chanted and held signs reading, "Bring it."
"We know what it means and what it would mean for the Democratic National Committee to come to Columbus for the 2016 national convention," said Rep. Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, who also serves as the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party. "It is our job for the next 24 hours to send that message to our friends from the DNC."
The Democratic delegation is considering Columbus, Philadelphia and several other cities as potential sites for their 2016 gathering.
Republicans have already picked Cleveland for their 2016 national convention. On Wednesday, local and state officials worked to convince their national counterparts to choose Columbus.
"Columbus is the embodiment of the Democratic Party's values," said Columbus City Councilman Andy Ginther. "We're a smart, open, diverse city where people of all ages from across the country and around the world come to build better lives for themselves and their families."
He added, "It's time for Columbus to take its rightful place on the national stage. ... Columbus is the perfect backdrop for the DNC to connect with America."
Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan also was in town for the morning rally, telling attendees that Columbus represented "what is best in the Democratic Party and what is best about the United States of America. Right here in Franklin County, you have a tolerant and diverse culture and economy. You have innovation and entrepreneurship. you have public-private partnerships that lead to all this magnificent growth that we've seen in the city of Columbus."
And former Gov. Ted Strickland said a Columbus Democratic National Convention would spotlight the policy differences between the two parties during a pivotal presidential election.
"I'm glad the Republicans are coming to Cleveland," Strickland said. "And I'm glad the Democrats are coming to Columbus, because what a contrast the people of Ohio and the people of America will see as they look at the corresponding different policies that come out of those 2016 conventions."
A final decision on a convention site is not expected until late this year or early next.