President Donald Trump flummoxed officials in Charlotte while taking a partisan swipe at Gov. Roy Cooper by suggesting the Republican National Convention may skip past North Carolina.
Amid a string of tweets Monday, May 25, about Memorial Day and the golf trips President Obama took while in office, Trump said he would relocate the Aug. 24-27 nominating convention if Cooper failed to guarantee “full attendance” would be allowed to conventioneers. Trump said Cooper, a Democrat, needed to tell convention planners immediately if COVID-19 shutdown orders would prevent construction and investment plans in Uptown Charlotte. If not, the president said, the party would seek another location.
Some 50,000 delegates and other visitors are expected in Charlotte that week.
Cooper press secretary Dory MacMillan said the state would make no concessions.
“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,” she said in a statement posted on Cooper’s Twitter account.
Local officials insisted Trump couldn’t change plans unilaterally.
Charlotte City Council member Ed Driggs, a Republican, told The Charlotte Observer the city’s contract was with the GOP’s Committee on Arrangements rather than the White House or the Trump re-election campaign. Driggs also questioned if another city could host such a large event on short notice.
Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat, backed the governor.
“While I’ve remained consistent in my statements regarding the RNC being held in Charlotte, the science and data will ultimately determine what we will collectively do for our city,” the Observer reported.
In a Monday appearance on Fox News, Vice President Mike Pence said Trump was “making a very reasonable request” of Cooper. Pence mentioned Georgia, Florida, and Texas — three states with Republican governors which have reopened faster than the Tar Heel State — as possible alternatives.
At a May 16 press event held by videoconference signaling the final 100 days before the convention’s scheduled launch, RNC 2020 CEO Marcia Lee Kelly said by holding the nation’s first mass event since the pandemic arrived, Charlotte would showcase the nation’s readiness to rebound from COVID-19.
At the event, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said she envisioned no way the convention would be scaled back.
Democrats delayed their nominating convention in Milwaukee from July until mid-August. Earlier this month, the party announced the event would allow delegates to participate virtually. It’s possible former Vice President Joe Biden would be nominated and give his acceptance speech at a mostly empty convention hall.