The idea of Republicans loose in New York - Democrat stronghold, capital of US liberalism - strikes many residents as bizarre.

But Larry Mone, a New Yorker and president of the conservative Manhattan Institute think-tank, says the city's revival in the last decade was rooted in conservative principles.

“Republicans should not feel defensive about being here,” Mr Mone says. “A lot of the policies they are arguing for [at this week's convention] have had a beneficial impact on the city.”

He says New York's City University, which was deeply troubled in the late 1980s, was revived by standard-raising programmes similar to President George W. Bush's education plan. And he says New York's crime-fighting methods were the product of conservative thinking.

Lobbying for the best suites

To gauge the value that Republican party organisers place on each of the states, the most obvious place to look is the convention floor, where delegates from battleground states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania are right up front.

But the hotel assignments for the week provide their own clues to how the states really rank.

Delegates from Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania have moved in to the Hilton New York in mid-town Manhattan, sharing space with Mr Bush's old friends from Texas.

With New York keen to show that it is a better host than Boston, where the Democrats held their party pow-wow, delegates from decidedly Democratic Massachusetts are staying at The Drake on Park Avenue.

Convention officials say room assignments were made “based upon the size of the delegation, as well as states' individual requests for specific requirements, such as meeting rooms and function space”.

That must explain why delegates from Washington DC (with three electoral votes and only a small number of Republican voters) are staying at the Algonquin Hotel. The famously literary spot is best known as the meeting place of the Round Table. What would Dorothy Parker have to say about it all?

Bloomberg will beat around the Bush

Michael Bloomberg, New York's Republican mayor, must walk a fine line this week as he rolls out the red carpet for the members of his party.

The dilemma? How to be a gracious host without alienating voters in his own city, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by five to one.

This week he has demonstrated support for political causes that are out of step with Mr Bush by attending parties supporting gay rights and abortion rights, which should play well with New York voters.

But in a speech welcoming Republicans to New York on Monday, Mr Bloomberg voiced strong support for Mr Bush. It is likely that the speech will go unnoticed by most New Yorkers, however. The mayor was given the less-than-prime-time 11am slot.

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