This story was updated 6/3/20 at 7:45 a.m.
The tiff between Gov. Roy Cooper, the Republican National Committee and President Donald Trump has escalated, blowing up Charlotte’s hopes to host the planned Republican National Convention at the Spectrum Center from Aug. 24-27.
In a series of tweets late last night, Trump wrote the Republican National Committee is “now forced to seek another State [sic] to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”
Trump blames Cooper and other state officials for the move, tweeting they “refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena [sic] — Spend millions of dollars, have everybody arrive, and then tell them they will not be able to gain entry.”
Cooper responded on 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.”
RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said yesterday that the organization is looking at other cities for the convention if certain demands are not met. “It is unfortunate the governor is dragging his feet on giving us any guidance as to how to move forward with plans to safely conduct our convention while generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the people of Charlotte and North Carolina.”
Losing the convention would be a big financial blow for the Charlotte hospitality industry, though some argue it is too risky under current pandemic conditions.
At a press conference Tuesday, Cooper again rejected the committee’s request to hold a full-scale convention with 19,000 attendees in the Queen City and said that health precautions such as face masks and social distancing are necessary. The RNC requested “full hotels and restaurants and bars at capacity” to entertain the expected massive crowds. Cooper declined to say what a “scaled-down” convention should look like, noting that is up to the Republicans.
“We are happy to continue talking with you about what a scaled-down convention would look like, and we still await your proposed plan for that,” Cooper wrote to McDaniel and RNC President Marcia Lee Kelly in a letter issued earlier in the day.
“Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek.”