On the 45th floor of the Comcast tower, the visiting Democratic National Committee Technical Advisory Group listened over breakfast Thursday as some of the city and region's most powerful Democrats made their pitch for why the party's 2016 grand fete should be held in Philadelphia.
The presentation was closed to the press, but those who attended said it was all about hyping up the Philadelphia region and its ability to raise the necessary funds. Speakers included U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, former Gov. Ed Rendell, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane, and Comcast executive David L. Cohen.
"We tried to make our case," City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said. "We did want to emphasize our ability to raise money because apparently that is a very significant part of the selection committee's determination as to who they select."
However, Clarke said that the specifics to how the fundraising will be done will be decided later on.
"We got to this point because we have shown that we are a city that can host big events," Clarke said.
Philadelphia is one of five cities left in the running to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention. The others are Brooklyn, N.Y., Phoenix, Ariz., Birmingham, Ala., and Columbus, Ohio. (The Republican National Committee recently selected Cleveland for its convention.)
Fundraising will be one of the major responsibilities of Philadelphia's host committee, which is chaired by Daniel Hilferty, chief executive of Independence Blue Cross. The insurer is promising to kick in some money - Hilferty declined to specify how much. "Anytime there's an event that can bolster the city as a whole, it benefits" the people who receive their health insurance through Independence Blue Cross, he said.
Hilferty is also involved with fundraising for the 2015 World Meeting of Families and the hoped-for visit from Pope Francis. In a press conference, Hilferty said the Philadelphia business community can handle both.
Rendell, who is co-chairing the nonprofit Philadelphia 2016 that has been created to woo the DNC, said he expects that companies and individuals locally and throughout the state will contribute 75 to 85 percent of the $60 million to $82 million Philadelphia's host committee wants to raise to fund the convention.
Because of the Democrats' strong ties with organized labor, unions will kick in $5 million to fund the convention, Rendell said after Thursday's breakfast. Labor did not contribute any cash to underwrite the Republican convention held here in 2000, he said.
The city will incur some costs for "logistical support," Clarke said, but could not give a figure as to how much. He also said that because the convention is a political event, the city's general fund dollars can't be pumped into it.
"We will do whatever it takes to get this convention, within reason," Clarke said.
Casey was one of the politicians who cheered on Philadelphia while guests sipped coffee and munched on eggs, bacon and French toast. He later said he told the group that there is momentum already building across the state.
"This is as much about the commonwealth as it is the region," Casey said. "People across the commonwealth already are excited about this."
He also told the breakfast group that there is enough capability throughout the state to raise enough money.
Since the mid-1980s, Casey said, Pennsylvania Democrats have "always overperformed on money," whether it's for presidential campaigns or governor races. "I think the track record is superlative."
In addition to the DNC advisory group, leaders from the labor and private sector, politicians were in attendance.
After the breakfast the DNC advisory group was split up into various meetings that were also closed to the press.
An afternoon rally at the National Constitution Center will be held for the selection committee, which goes next to Phoenix.