The Republicans plan to hold their 2008 nominating convention just three days after the Democrats wrap up theirs, setting up the closest political conventions in 50 years.

Republicans on Thursday announced that their convention will be Sept. 1-4. Democrats had already set their dates for Aug. 25-28, just after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

The timing of the GOP event could undercut any bounce that a Democratic nominee might get from the party gathering and would give the Republicans the last word politically.

Democratic chairman Howard Dean said the August dates were in the best interest of the party and anything after Labor Day would be a hardship for some party constituencies, in particular teachers. "I'm not worried about it at all," Dean said.

The close timing of the conventions "will give the American people an opportunity for real contrast," said Democratic spokeswoman Karen Finney.

The party in power traditionally holds its convention after the challenging party. In 2004, Democrats held their convention in late July in Boston and Republicans met in New York City at the end of August.

Neither party has selected a city for the convention.

In mid-February, Republicans invited more than 30 cities to make a bid on the 2008 event.

Cities that received requests for convention proposals include: Anaheim, Calif.; Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Detroit; Houston; Indianapolis; Los Angeles; Kansas City, Mo.; Memphis, Tenn.; Miami; Minneapolis; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans; New York; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis, Mo.; and Tampa.

The deadline for cities to make bids on the Republican convention is May 22. The list of cities will be narrowed by midsummer, and the convention city announced by Feb. 1, 2007.

Democrats initially sent out invitations to about the same number of cities, and more than a third of those cities expressed interest. In late February, Democrats named the 11 cities that they said were interested: Anaheim, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Phoenix and San Antonio.

In 1956, the start of each party convention was in August, also a week apart.