3:50 p.m. — A 2016 Republican National Convention site-scouting delegation is getting the VIP treatment as about two dozen members arrive Monday at Denver International Airport.
Colorado GOP volunteers are meeting them at their gates, whisking them through DIA's VIP area and leading them on tours of the airport, including viewing the South Terminal hotel and transit station construction project.
But they aren't getting a motorcade escort to their two downtown hotels near the Colorado Convention Center, as they got last week in Cleveland. Instead, they are riding in town cars or volunteers' vehicles.
"I can't believe they'd make the decision to go to a city on the basis of whether they were razzle-dazzled by fireworks or some celebrities," said Pete Coors, chairman of the Denver bid committee, during an afternoon news conference in the terminal. But otherwise, "We've pitched to the RNC the way we think they want it to be pitched," Coors said, "and that is, this is a business meeting."
That said, organizers are planning for Thunder, the Broncos' mascot, to greet the delegation at a private reception.
Answering questions posed mostly by local media, Coors and Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call talked about the value of Colorado's swing-state status, the success of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and the strong case Denver's weather is making this week for having the convention here.
By the time the delegation leaves Wednesday morning, the host committee wants to leave the impression that not only is Denver a viable option, it's the only one that can pull the convention off successfully.
Coors and Call also talked fundraising, citing Denver boosters' pride at not tapping any taxpayer or economic development funds, as a counterpoint to the higher totals touted so far by Denver's competitors. (Denver's bid has raised just shy of $11 million in pledges, and the bid committee says it's months ahead of schedule.)
The bid committee is asking Denver residents to tweet their favorite pictures of Denver and Colorado on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtags #GOWEST and #RNC2016.
10:23 a.m. — Cleveland brought in the Browns' newly drafted quarterback Johnny Manziel to impress Republican scouts for the party's 2016 convention. Kansas City, Mo., drafted former Vice President Dick Cheney.
But Denver might not even trot out Broncos icon John Elway, a member of the bid committee who nonetheless is expected to be out of town during the GOP's three-day visit, which starts Monday.
That doesn't worry bid chairman Pete Coors. He thinks Denver's case is so strong that there's no need for celebrity surprises or flashy flourishes.
"We could bring in the Broncos cheerleaders. We could try to razzle-dazzle them, but I don't think that's what they're looking for this time around," Coors said. "They're not going to be as impressed by that as they are with the commitment this community has to make this happen."
Republican National Committee officials and the Site Selection Committee's 13 members have heard similar sentiments from the other cities.
But Denver's the only one to have hosted a major party convention recently, pulling off a praiseworthy Democratic event in 2008.
That may not make Denver a lock, with GOP donor-rich Dallas also in the hunt. (The delegation heads there next, on Wednesday.)
Unlike Kansas City, which hosted Republicans in 1976, Denver officials intimately know the demands of post-9/11 security for huge events. Lessons from 2008 will feature prominently in briefings in the next two days.
Local Republican bid leaders plan to brief media at Denver International Airport on more of what to expect about 1 p.m. Monday.
Two dozen or more Republicans will arrive throughout the day to an airport train welcome from Mayor Michael Hancock, a Democrat who has supported the bid and plans to participate Tuesday, the busiest day of the visit.
The Republicans also will tour downtown hotels and explore the Pepsi Center, the intended convention hall, and other potential event venues.
"We want them to go home feeling that this is not only best place to come logistically," Coors said, "but also that it's the best place for delegates to come and have a great experience in a great city."
But he's also mindful that Denver must show it can raise $60 million. A session on fundraising could be one of the most important presentations.
Optimism reigns among bid boosters.
"Denver has the perfect combination of infrastructure, experience and a community that is united to put on a successful convention," said Larry Mizel, a prominent Denver Republican donor. "Hosting the 2016 convention will not only be good for our city and state, but it will show how important this entire region is to the Republican Party and the nation."
Jon Murray: 303-954-1405, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JonMurray