Milwaukee should 'expect' presidential debate ahead of 2024 RNC

The road to the White House runs through Milwaukee.

Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, announced Thursday, Feb. 2 that the city can expect to host a Republican presidential debate before hosting the 2024 Republican National Convention. 

"We'll be announcing that soon, but you should be able to expect that we'll have a debate here in Milwaukee," McDaniel said.

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McDaniel joined Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson and the convention's host committee at Third Street Market Hall. The event officially kicked off the convention planning process, but work has been underway for months.

"This is the perfect place to highlight our nominee for the 2024 presidential campaign, and it's also the perfect place to provide the best delegate experience for people who are going to be coming from across the country – from across the territories – to your great state," said McDaniel. "You really do have a city that shines, and I am so excited to bring the world into Milwaukee."

Republican National Convention (RNC) 2024 kickoff event at Third Street Market Hall

The convention is expected to host roughly 45,000 people from July 15-18, 2024

"A lot of people are already planning to take a vacation and Airbnb their rental units, their houses," said Milwaukee Common Council President José Pérez. "I don’t think it’ll be a headache. To a certain point, for some nearby residents, maybe."

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A major political convention is something that businesses prepared for in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic busted the promise of Milwaukee hosting the Democratic National Convention.

"For those folks who have some reluctance because of what happened in 2020, I can tell you that the Republican National Convention will happen in Milwaukee in 2024," said Johnson. "It will happen."

First, the 2024 Milwaukee Host Committee needs to raise more than $65 million. Reince Priebus, the committee's chairman, would not give specifics Thursday but said they are ahead of schedule. They are also securing hotels and venues.

"When we bring the delegates and the guests, which is like four Super Bowls in a row, into this city, we’re going to try to map this out so that every part of this city is taking in the economic boom that this convention has to offer," Priebus said.

Priebus added that the committee wants to have delegates stay in hotels within 30 minutes of the convention. Other guests may be farther away.