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It appears that the convention venue for the Republican National Convention in August — Charlotte, North Carolina — is in serious jeopardy. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper suggested a “scaled back event” with fewer attendees. Trump said he wants a “full convention” without masks being required or social distancing.
The two seem far apart on a solution.
President Donald Trump called Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday and insisted on a full Republican convention this summer with no face masks or social distancing, according to a spokesperson for the governor.
“The Governor spoke to the President today. When the President insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing the Governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees,” said Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the governor, in a statement. “They agreed to continue talking about ways to have a safe convention in Charlotte.”
Trump has threatened to pull the convention unless he gets what he wants and GOP officials planning the convention told Governor Cooper that he had until Wednesday of this next week to decide whether he would accede to Trump’s demands.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has claimed the planning is “full steam ahead.” Democrats, by contrast, are moving more cautiously. They have set their convention in Milwaukee back by a month and openly acknowledge that this year’s event may need to be virtual.
On Thursday, the RNC and the organizers of its national convention sent Cooper a letter outlining their proposals to safely conduct the planned August gathering. The letter outlines eight safety protocols the convention organizers plan to implement, including access to antibacterial gel, pre-travel health surveys and health screenings at the event.
It does not mention other protocols recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like the wearing of masks or implementation of social distancing practices.
Meanwhile, state GOP parties are lining up to step into the breach if Charlotte doesn’t pan out.
Florida Republican Party Chair Joe Gruters said that his state “would welcome the opportunity to host the Republican National Convention,” adding that “Florida is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and successful event for President Trump and all attendees,” according to an NBC news report.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also expressed excitement about the prospect of hosting the conference, saying at a press conference Tuesday that “Florida would love to have the RNC,” NBC news reported.
Georgia is also stepping forward.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said in a tweet that “Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention.”
“With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump!” he said.
But forget about holding it in Atlanta, said the Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who said the city is using a “phased, data-driven approach to reopening” and does not want to host “a large gathering event in August.”
Texas is also offering their state as convention host, Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey said that “Texas would welcome President Trump and the RNC Convention.”
All that support is appreciated, I’m sure, but pulling together an event to host 10,000 people in 2.5 months — including presidential security and safety measures — may not be doable. Some other state would have to start preparations tomorrow and still wouldn’t be ready by late August. Hotels, airlines, ground transport, security — Charlotte has been working on these preparations for nearly 2 years. It’s a stretch to think that any city or state could prepare in less than 3 months.
Cooper and Charlotte’s Democratic Mayor Vi Lyles have plenty of incentive to force the Republicans to put up or shut up. They can make a powerful political statement for Joe Biden by forcing the president and Republicans to adopt their caution in reopening. That’s why Trump is likely to bid farewell to Charlotte and move the convention elsewhere.