DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – With the hope of hosting the Republican National Convention in 2016, Big D threw a Grand Old Party for the GOP.

As a band played outside the American Airlines Center, cheerleaders and volunteers welcomed the 13 members of the Republican National Committee, who will decide where to hold their party’s 2016 convention. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison escorted them up to the arena.

The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, said, “It’s fantastic to be here in Dallas. It’s a great city. It’s big. It plays big. The host committee has done an incredible job or rolling out the red carpet.”

The chair of the RNC site selection team, Enid Mickelsen, said, “It’s an incredible welcome, absolutely wonderful. Dallas does it big what I can say.” How big? The host committee brought in two elephants, the Republicans’ symbol, to greet the RNC.

“I didn’t wake up this morning thinking I was going to pet a couple of elephants on the way into the arena, but that was certainly a nice touch,” Priebus said jokingly.

A nice touch may only get Dallas so far. Republicans say their decision will be a business decision based on what’s the best city for hotels, arena, transportation, and security.

But Priebus said hospitality does account for something. “Rolling out the atmosphere, the people, the generosity, the big hearts, and we’re certainly seeing that this morning.”

Dallas is competing for the convention against Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City, which threw its own party, complete with fireworks last week. Cleveland and Denver have also already hosted the Republicans. Denver hosted the Democratic Party’s convention in 2008.

Priebus said, “For them, that’s an advantage, it’s not a disadvantage for Dallas.”

Dallas reminded Republicans about their party’s convention in 1984 here, where they re-nominated then President Ronald Reagan.

The host committee showed Republicans what a convention could look like now – complete with confetti and balloons. And while they rolled out the red carpet earlier, actress Linda Gray of Dallas the TV show showed up for lunch.

Republicans toured AT&T Stadium in Arlington later in the day. If Dallas is selected, Republicans may hold an event there.

Texas is still a Republican-stronghold, and has received $45 million in commitments from private donors to help pay for the convention. So far, Kansas City has received $30 million in commitments, Cleveland $25 million, and Denver $11 million in commitments.

Republicans would like to hold the convention in late June. Kansas City could, but Dallas, Denver, and Cleveland could not because their NBA teams could be in the finals. But Republicans are also considering a mid-July date in 2016, when all of the cities are available to host the convention.

With Dallas in the final four cities, we asked one member of the selection team, Sandy Boehler, if the city’s bid is a slam-dunk or an air ball? She said, “I’m not going there.”

As early as next week, Republicans may decide to eliminate one or two cities from contention. They will announce their final decision at their meetings in Chicago in early August.

Follow Jack on Twitter: @cbs11jack

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