President Donald Trump has announced that he is seeking a new state to host this summer’s Republican National Convention after North Carolina refused to guarantee the event could be held in Charlotte without restrictions amid lingering concerns over Covid -19.
Mr Trump tweeted the news, complaining that state governor Democrat Roy Cooper and other officials “refused to guarantee that we could use the Spectrum Arena” and did not “allow us to use the Spectrum Arena”. occupy the arena as originally planned and promised â. .
âBecause of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to look for another state to host the 2020 Republican National Convention,â he wrote.
Mr Trump and the Republican National Committee had demanded that the convention be allowed to move forward with a large, faceless crowd, sounding the alarm bells in a state facing an upward trend in its virus cases, with around 29 900 cumulative cases and 900 deaths from Tuesday.
Around 700 Covid-19 patients are currently hospitalized.
Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is located, had 4,500 cases – more than double the next highest county – and nearly 100 deaths.
A traditional Republican convention brings together around 2,500 delegates, the same number of alternate delegates and many more guests, journalists and security personnel.
Officials on both sides have been preparing contingency plans for months given the uncertainty and dangers posed by the virus and evolving restrictions on large gatherings intended to slow the spread of Covid-19.
Mr Trump’s announcement came after a call with Mr Cooper in which the President told Mr Cooper he wanted a traditional convention with an arena crowded with delegates – and without a face covering to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
During the call, when Mr. Trump “insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing, the governor expressed concern and suggested a scaled-down event with fewer attendees,” the governor wrote. Cooper spokesperson Sadie Weiner in an email.
“They have agreed to continue discussing how to have a safe convention in Charlotte.”
But Mr. Cooper made it clear to Mr. Trump that those conditions would likely be impossible to meet given the state of the epidemic in his state, and made it official in a letter to the RNC on the eve of a date. Wednesday’s limit set by Republicans to get assurances from Cooper that he would allow a full-scale event in August.
Mr. Cooper wrote to RNC President Ronna McDaniel that “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a must.”
And later, he told reporters that virus trends were unlikely to allow a full capacity nominating convention for Mr. Trump to take place in the NBA arena in Charlotte.
âSo the likelihood of him being in Charlotte depends on the RNC’s willingness to discuss a smaller-scale convention with us. “
This prompted the RNC to say it would start visiting potential alternative sites in the largely Republican-ruled states who have offered to host the quadrennial gathering instead.
Ms McDaniel, meanwhile, accused Mr Cooper of “dragging his feet” in giving them advice to pursue convention plans.
Republican governors of states including Tennessee, Florida and Georgia had said they would be interested in welcoming if North Carolina fell apart.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Republican officials scouted for Nashville on Thursday and called the city “the best place in America to host a convention.”
Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp responded to Trump’s announcement by tweeting, âHope you got Georgia on your mind, @realDonaldTrump!
The City of Charlotte posted on its Twitter account on Tuesday that it had not received any official notification from the RNC and that Baker “will be in contact with RNC lawyers to understand their full intentions.”
Earlier today, North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley acknowledged that some changes would likely be needed, but maintained that Republicans wanted a “full-scale” convention.