Trump Threatens to Move Republican National Convention From North Carolina
President Donald Trump threatened to move the planned Republican National Convention from North Carolina unless the state’s governor can guarantee the party will be allowed full attendance.
Trump took aim at North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, in a series of posts on Twitter Monday, saying he wanted a guarantee that Republicans would be permitted to gather in Charlotte at the end of August, despite any coronavirus outbreaks.
“Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” Trump said in the tweets. “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.”
The summer conventions have served to highlight differences between the two parties in dealing with the coronavirus and the economic fallout from stay-at-home orders. The Democrats have spoken openly about the possibility of making most of theirs, scheduled to be held in Milwaukee Aug. 17-20, virtual. The Republicans, conversely, insist they plan to hold the multiday event Aug. 24-27 as usual.
Charlotte was the only city to officially submit a bid for the Republican convention, though the president’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, publicly advocated for his hometown of San Antonio to bid for the site. Texas has moved more aggressively to reopen its businesses, with Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, announcing last week that professional sports and summer camps could resume by the end of the month.
But moving the convention just months before it is scheduled to occur — particularly as the coronavirus continues to complicate travel — could prove a logistical and financial nightmare for the Republican National Committee, particularly with professional basketball and hockey leagues eyeing a late-summer return to games. The committee would need to secure not only an arena or convention center space, but tens of thousands of hotel and meeting rooms for delegates, the press, and other attendees.
Trump’s financial threat against Charlotte may also ring hollow. A study of political conventions between 1972 and 2004 by economists at College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts found no discernible improvement in employment or personal income in host cities.
“We all want to be in Charlotte,” Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview with “Fox & Friends” Monday. He said it was important for the party to know now because of the planning involved and so that they can, if need be, move to a state “farther along” on reopening.
Republican National Committee CEO Marcia Lee Kelly said in a Fox Businessop-ed earlier this month that her team had “worked incredibly hard to adapt” to the coronavirus threat and that the first family had already approved design elements including the stage, lectern, and family box.
“As we continue to rebuild our economy and recover from Covid-19, I whole-heartedly believe our convention will take on an even greater role in the civic life of our country,” Kelly said.
Democrats have also been rushing to develop contingency convention plans amid the coronavirus pandemic, with some delegates having signaled their concern over traveling to Milwaukee for the nomination of former Vice President Joe Biden. The Democratic National Committee has already approved a plan to allow delegates to vote remotely, and moved their event from mid-July to the week of August 17.
Biden said an in-person convention was “possible, but it remains to be seen” in an interview with Wisconsin television station WISN last week, and that Democrats’ decision would be dictated by health policy experts.
“I plan on campaigning in Milwaukee,” Biden said. “And I hope there is a convention in Milwaukee. It may not be as robust a convention. It may be a social distancing thing. It may be smaller. I don’t know. I can’t ordain what that’s going to be, but I plan to campaign in Milwaukee.”
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