North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has rejected the GOP plan to hold a full-scale party convention in Charlotte, saying that it would be too dangerous without proper safety measures.
“The people of North Carolina do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August, so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity,” Cooper wrote in a letter to the RNC.
Cooper is refusing to allow 50,000 people to fill Charlotte hotels and restaurants with no social distancing or required masks. So Donald Trump, who had been threatening to move the convention for weeks if Cooper didn’t give him what he wanted, now has to decide where to take his party.
RNC officials are expected to travel to Nashville, Tenn. later this week, Fox News has confirmed, as well as other cities, including Las Vegas, Nev., Orlando, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., and Georgia. The news was first reported by Politico and confirmed by Fox News.
All of the locations have directly expressed interest in hosting the convention. Party officials told Politico that they will likely visit several of the locations in the coming days.
Obviously, the new site will be a Republican-controlled state. Some city in Florida — Orlando or Jacksonville — would be ideal, given Florida’s status as a swing state and a friendly governor in Ron DeSantis. Arizona is also a possibility, although the state is reliably Republican and wouldn’t help the campaign very much.
Interestingly, a plan is being floated by senior Republicans that would see the delegates gather in Charlotte but the business of the convention — including the president’s acceptance speech — would happen elsewhere.
The party now faces the complicated hurdle of moving their convention elsewhere absent a last-minute breakthrough. Republicans familiar with the process say an array of options are being discussed, including the prospect of having delegates gather in Charlotte to nominate Trump and have the president give his acceptance speech elsewhere.
“Due to the directive from the governor that our convention cannot go on as planned as required by our rules, the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city,” said RNC spokesman Mike Reed. “Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte.”
Naturally, Trump is disappointed.
“Had long planned to have the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place I love,” he wrote on Twitter. “Now … Roy Cooper and his representatives refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena – Spend millions of dollars, have everybody arrive, and then tell them they will not be able to gain entry. Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised.”
From a governor’s standpoint, there is much to consider. Cooper, running for re-election against a tough GOP opponent, Lt. Governor Dan Forest, in a state won by Donald Trump in 2016, saw his options as extremely limited. His public health experts were telling him there would be a spike in coronavirus infections if there was a big convention while even many Democrats were urging him to give Trump what he wanted. In the end, he opted for the public safety option — no doubt pleasing national Democrats who were hoping the GOP convention would experience trouble.
Cooper was going to take a hit regardless of what he decided about the convention. Time will tell whether it was the right call.
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