North Carolina says traditional Republican convention can't be held safely, angering Trump

A scene from Donald Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016

Losing the Republican National Convention after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and RNC officials failed to see eye to eye on coronavirus restrictions would be "devastating" for the state, the state's lieutenant governor said on Wednesday.

The president blamed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for the change in plans, saying that the governor is still in "Shelter-In-Place Mode" and has thus far refused to guarantee that the Spectrum Arena in Charlotte would be able to operate at full capacity for the convention August 24-27. Gov. Cooper has delivered a clear message that North Carolina is not open for business, and the repercussions to jobs and livelihoods will be long-lasting.

"We are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention", Trump said, without indicating which states were under consideration.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, one of the recipients of Cooper's letter, accused him of "dragging his feet" on giving them guidance for proceeding with convention plans.

Trump and other Republican officials had been pressing North Carolina for reassurances that they could stage a large-scale, traditional convention, without the burdens imposed by masks and social distancing. "We also await answers to the safety questions posed by our state Health and Human Services secretary, specifically regarding social distancing and face coverings". "Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte". Cooper wants the GOP to continue discussing a scaled-back convention, while Republicans are seeking assurances that more than 10 people will be allowed in a room.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaking in Raleigh on Tuesday
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper speaking in Raleigh on Tuesday

The party's gathering is scheduled to begin on August 24.

Republican governors in Georgia, Florida and Tennessee have called on Trump to move the convention to their states, and the RNC is scheduled to visit Nashville on Thursday.

Cooper sent an earlier letter to Republican Party leaders a day before the deadline Trump had set for the state to guarantee that convention attendance would not be limited by social distancing restrictions. Former Vice President Joe Biden is the party's presumptive presidential nominee.

But Seelbinder, a North Carolina resident and unaffiliated voter, said he wouldn't be sad to see the convention go elsewhere because Trump's rhetoric surrounding the pandemic and recent protests against police brutality frustrates him.

North Carolina is a key swing state and has voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, save 2012.


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