By Jason Schaumburg
(THE CENTER SQUARE) – In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump said the Republican National Convention will look at states other than North Carolina to host August’s event, blaming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.
Cooper and North Carolina officials had been going back and forth with Republican officials over safety concerns regarding hosting a convention during the coronavirus pandemic.
North Carolina was committed to holding a scaled-back convention under health guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Republican National Committee and convention organizers wanted assurances it could put on a full-scale event, which was scheduled for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte.
Cooper told Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Republican National Convention President and CEO Marcia Kelly on Tuesday their request for 19,000 people to occupy the Spectrum Center and to fill hotels, bars and restaurants was improbable.
“Had long planned to have the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place I love. Now, @NC_Governor Roy Cooper and his representatives refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets late Tuesday night. “… Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”
Cooper responded to Trump, also via Twitter: “We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority.”
“I am blown away that Gov. Cooper has pulled the plug on the hosting the RNC Convention in Charlotte,” North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley tweeted. “His failure to work with the RNC on a plan to safely host this event is a gut punch to thousands of small businesses who have already been suffering under his lockdown.”
RNC is under contract with Charlotte to host the convention. It is unclear what will happen with that contract. Republican officials said Tuesday night they could do the business of the convention in Charlotte and find a new location for Trump’s acceptance speech.
“We have yet to receive any official notification from the Republican National Committee regarding its intent for the location of the convention,” the City of Charlotte tweeted Tuesday night in response to Trump’s tweets. “We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions.”
Earlier Tuesday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee confirmed RNC officials were expected to visit Nashville this week as part of RNC’s scouting process for a new location. Politico reported Tuesday that Republicans also are interested in Las Vegas; Orlando, Fla.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Georgia.
Governors with strong ties to Trump in Georgia and Florida have expressed interest in hosting the GOP convention.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp reiterated his desire Tuesday night by retweeting Trump’s tweet and adding the message, “Hope you have Georgia on your mind, @realDonaldTrump!”
Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.