Trump says he's yanking RNC from North Carolina over potential pandemic restrictions

Grant Boone
June 3, 2020

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will seek another state to host the Republican National Convention because North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, had refused to guarantee that coronavirus restrictions wouldn't affect the party's nominating convention.

Mr Trump's announcement came after a call with Mr Cooper in which the president had told Mr Cooper he wanted a traditional convention with a packed arena full of delegates - and with no face coverings to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

"We have now communicated to Governor Cooper's office multiple times that we would like to showcase Charlotte and the wonderful state of North Carolina to the world by hosting the convention we contracted for almost two years ago", McDaniel said, calling the convention a "historic event to show that America is open for business".

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.

The party conference, which was scheduled for Charlotte's National Basketball Association arena in August, will formally nominate Mr Trump to seek a second term in the 3 November election.

Republican governors of Tennessee, Florida and Georgia said they would be interested in hosting a full-scale convention if North Carolina fell through. "We also await answers to the safety questions posed by our state Health and Human Services secretary, specifically regarding social distancing and face coverings".

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A "full convention" would include about 19,000 delegates, staff, volunteers and other attendees.

Republican officials had submitted proposals for a "full convention" rather than one with fewer participants and social distancing as requested by the state, Cooper said.

McDaniel said the party still hopes to "conduct the business of our convention" at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, which Trump, the RNC, and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, have all indicated is their first choice.

In response, Cooper said via Twitter: "It's unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe".

Party officials were expected to scout sites in Nashville later this week, Politico reported. The Democratic National Convention is scheduled for a week earlier in Milwaukee, though it remains to be seen whether it will be held at limited capacity or virtually.

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