GOP debate preps - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

GOP debate preps

On Thursday the Q will be filled with Republican Presidential hopefuls trying to get to the White House.
 
The debate puts Cleveland in the political crosshairs.
 
With less than 24 hours to go to the debate, the city looks ready to handle the crowds.

Barricades are up and security is ready.
 
Some of the candidates are already here getting to know voters.
 
Candidates for the GOP presidential nomination aren't wasting any time hitting the ground running here in Cleveland.

“For America the question is what happens now, what comes next?” said Senator Marco Rubio to a crowd of about 400 at an Ohio City restaurant Wednesday evening. 

It's a question on any voter’s mind as 17 candidates head to town.

“I'm still undecided as far as who I'm going to back Republican wise. But it was very informative,” said Patrick Barnum, after Rubio’s speech.

 From Senator Marco Rubio's restaurant stop to former Governor Rick Perry's photo downtown with Cleveland Police officers, some candidates flew in early to Cleveland to get to know the voters.

 “This is wonderful for Cleveland. Great convention here, great candidates here,” said Marie Berchak, who attended the Rubio event.
 
The national media set up camp across from the Quicken Loans Arena and bars and restaurants on East 4th Street are ready for the crowds.

“I think it's awesome. It's such an exciting time to be in Cleveland and have all this attention on our city,” said Shannon Liber, who was enjoying the night on East 4th Street.

Destination Cleveland is comparing this national stage to the NBA Playoffs. Tourism officials hope visitors will see the how much Cleveland has changed.

 “I hope they see a revived city. From the 70s until now, the change has been tremendous,” said Jim Srnick, who is from Cleveland.

 Before the big debate-- some candidates are already working on their jokes.
 
“I came in to town today trying to convince LeBron James to come back to Miami,” said Rubio to a booing crowd.

 “Don't worry, it didn't work, it didn't work!” he said as the crowd laughed.

 Police have blocked off some areas around the Q to control traffic and possible protesters.

 Officials say hotels downtown are full, which means close to 4,000 rooms are booked.
 
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