The next presidential campaign won’t begin for at least another year and the conventions for another 30 months, but the preparations for the spectacle has already begun at the Republican National Committee meetings in Hawaii.  National Journal’s Hotline reports that the RNC has whittled down the potential hosts to four cities:

The RNC has narrowed its search for a ’12 convention location to 4 cities, several party sources tell Hotline OnCall.

In a vote at the Winter meetings in Honolulu late last week, the party narrowed its search to Salt Lake City, Tampa, Phoenix and Houston.

The RNC’s site selection committee, headed by MI committeewoman Holly Hughes, will visit each of the 4 cities later this year to go over logistics, examine hotel and conference capacity and the facility for the convention itself. An RNC spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

Last year, the RNC held its convention in St. Paul, which challenged Democrats on what is usually a state that breaks their way.  Democrats did the same thing, hauling themselves out to Colorado to try to capture the interior West from the GOP.  Democrats had a moderate amount of success in doing so, but it looks like the 2010 midterms may set them back decades in that effort, at least if current conditions remain.

These choices seem safer.  Florida went to Obama in 2008, but that’s more of an anomaly.  Republicans can expect Texas, Arizona, and Utah to stay red in 2012 even if unemployment abates and the economy is back at full steam.  Houston and Phoenix are great cities — I lived in Phoenix for almost two years — but neither of them are especially comfortable in late August, with both having high temperatures and Houston having high humidity on top of it.  Salt Lake City would be a better choice for climate, but with Utah being so Republican, it won’t do much to give any advantage to the GOP.

All other things being equal, such as accommodations and prices, I’d guess that Tampa may be the best choice of the four.  We should know in a year or so.

Meanwhile, what has the DNC and its chair Tim Kaine done to secure a site for 2012?  According to Reid Wilson … absolutely nothing.  Kaine hasn’t even created a committee to discuss it yet.  Wasn’t Kaine supposed to have more time on his hands after his one term as Governor expired?