May 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump, Ivanka Trump and others on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

  • The state reported its highest single-day spike in new coronavirus cases on Saturday, a day after it began its second phase of reopening.
  • Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has the highest number of confirmed cases in the state with over 3,000, according to state data.
  • The convention is expected to draw around 50,000 people, and Republican leaders added a senior health adviser earlier this month to try to preempt virus concerns.

What he's saying: "Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August. They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site," Trump tweeted.

  • A spokesperson for Cooper responded: "State health officials are working with the RNC and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte. North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state's public health and safety."

The backdrop: The New York Times reported last week that the Republican Party is quietly acknowledging that its convention plans would have to be scaled back amid the coronavirus threat, even as it publicly insisted its plans hadn't changed.

  • Trump even "has mused aloud to several aides about why the convention can’t simply be held in a hotel ballroom in Florida, given all of the health concerns and the fact that Florida is further along in reopening portions of the state."
  • The Times notes that contractual obligations make the event difficult to move from Charlotte — unless Cooper were to prevent the event from being held entirely.

The other side: The Democratic Party has already postponed its convention, scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, from July to August — and is considering adding virtual or socially-distanced elements.

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