RALEIGH, N.C.—Organizers of the Republican National Convention said on June 2 that theyll begin visiting potential alternative sites after North Carolinas governor told them the COVID-19 pandemic requires them to prepare for a scaled-back event if they want to hold it in Charlotte.
Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said in a letter to the top convention organizer and the national GOP chairwoman that “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.” The letter came on the eve of a deadline from the GOP for assurances that Cooper would allow a full-scale event in August.
Later, Cooper told reporters its unlikely that virus trends will allow a full-capacity nominating convention for President Donald Trump to proceed at Charlottes NBA arena.
“We think it is unlikely that we would be to the point at the end of August to be able to have a jam-packed 19,000-person convention in the Spectrum arena,” Cooper said. “So the likelihood of it being in Charlotte depends upon the RNCs willingness to discuss with us a scaled-down convention, which we would like to do.”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, one of the recipients of Coopers letter, accused him of “dragging his feet” on giving them guidance for proceeding with convention plans. She released a statement saying that while the party would like to hold its event in Charlotte, “we have an obligation to our delegates and nominee to begin visiting the multiple cities and states” that have reached out to express interest in hosting.
Republican governors of Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia have said they would be interested in hosting if North Carolina falls through. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said that GOP officials are coming to scout Nashville on June 4, calling the city “the best place in America to have a convention.”
June 3 was the GOPs deadline for assurances from Cooper. Last week, Trump demanded that Cooper guarantee him a full-scale event or he would be forced to move the event elsewhere.
North Carolina faces an upward trend in its virus cases, reporting about 30,000 cumulative cases and 900 deaths as of June 2. Around 700 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. Mecklenburg County accounted for 4,500 cases—more than double the next-highest county—and nearly 100 deaths.
Earlier in the day, North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley acknowledged that some changes would likely be needed, but maintained Republicans want a “full-scale” convention.
“Look, were not going to move forward with any activities that do not follow federal, state, or local requirements and regulations. So, we need to know what those requirements are going to be,” he said.
Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College, said that Coopers popularity in North Carolina may give him a stronger position than Trump to convince the public of his approach.
But Bitzer said its hard to imagine Cooper and Trump will strike a deal that fully satisfies both sides by June 3.
“The deadline is gonna push one side to do one thing, and the other side is just going to say, no or we cant,” he said.
A Charlotte convention could help Trump boost enthusiasm among North Carolina supporters, but he could also frustrate some voters if he pushes too hard during a delicate time for health anRead More From Source