North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said that he is prioritizing public health over politics in the planning for the Republican National Convention, after President Trump raised the possibility of moving the event out of Charlotte.
“I’m not surprised by anything that I see on Twitter,” the Democratic chief executive said during a COVID-19 press briefing. “I will say that it’s okay for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be.”
“I supported having the convention in North Carolina. But we have to put the health and safety of North Carolinians as the guiding star in this process, and we hope to continue the discussions and look forward to those discussions with the RNC later on this weekend and into next week,” he later added.
For months, Republican leaders’ public posture has been that the party’s national convention, where Trump will be formally nominated in August, is “full steam ahead.” But on Memorial Day, the president appeared to hamstring convention planning by threatening to pull the event from Charlotte.
“Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August,” Trump tweeted, adding that he has “love” for the battleground state before shifting the fault onto Cooper.
According to KSRO, Trump, taking aim at a political rival, laid blame on the state’s Democratic governor for being in a “shutdown mood” that could preclude “full attendance” at the event during the coronavirus crisis.
“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.”
Vice President Mike Pence echoed the president on Monday, telling Fox & Friends that if the state doesn’t move faster to reopen its economy, the party is considering moving to an alternate venue in a state “that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that, that we can gather there.” Despite urging that the party wants to keep the convention in Charlotte, some of the other possible states floated by Pence as potential hosts for the convention included Georgia, Texas and Florida.
Trump later wrote in another tweet that he has “zero interest” in moving the quadrennial gathering to his resort in Doral, which sits just outside of Miami, ruling out at least one Trump-owned venue in Florida. He also reiterated that he “would like to stay in N.C.”
Cooper warned on Tuesday that it is still too early to give the president the assurances he demanded about “whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.”
“Already, we’ve been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention that they would need to run, and the kind of options that we need on the table. We’re talking about something that’s going to happen three months from now, and we don’t know what our situation is going to be regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina,” he said.
“Everybody wants to get back into action soon, but I think everybody knows that we have to take some steps to make sure that people are protected because this virus is still going to be with us in August,” Cooper added.
Health officials in North Carolina are now seeking more clarity on planning for the event, requesting “a written plan” from the RNC on how to “approach the COVID-19 safety aspects of the convention”