Politics

Trump threatens to move GOP convention over coronavirus restrictions in North Carolina

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump on Monday said that he "will be reluctantly forced" to move the Republican National Convention if North Carolina doesn't ease up on social distancing restrictions to allow full attendance.
  • The convention is set for the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  •  In a series of tweets, the president said that he advocated for the convention to be held in North Carolina but railed against Gov. Roy Cooper for continuing to impose restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. 
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room of the White House, Friday, May 22, 2020, in Washington.
Alex Brandon | AP

President Donald Trump on Monday said that he "will be reluctantly forced" to move the Republican National Convention if North Carolina doesn't ease up on social distancing restrictions to allow full attendance. 

The convention is set for the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In a series of tweets, the president said that he advocated for the Republican National Convention to be held in North Carolina but railed against Gov. Roy Cooper for continuing to impose restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August," Trump tweeted.

"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. This is not something I want to do."

Shortly after lashing out at Cooper, Trump tweeted that he had spent the Memorial Day weekend playing golf, a move that led to criticism as the number of coronavirus cases in the United States continues to rise. 

Trump's most recent threat comes amid weeks of him urging the reopening of the country. The president has called on governors to relax social distancing restrictions and allow the reopening of small businesses to help the economy, which has been ravaged by the pandemic.

But some states have continued to see the number of cases rise and health officials have warned that early reopening could lead to a second wave. 

In the tweets Trump complained that the Republican Party might end up spending "millions of dollars building the arena to a very high standard," where the convention is to be held, without knowing whether Cooper will allow full-scale attendance. 

Over the weekend, North Carolina reported its highest one-day spike in confirmed cases, which comes just as the state enters its second reopening phase.

Cooper released a statement over Twitter saying officials in North Carolina "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," Cooper tweeted.

The Republican National Committee in a statement reiterated its desire to host a convention in August in North Carolina but said it would "need the governor to provide assurances that it can occur."

"We will need some answers sooner rather than later, or we will be forced to consider other options," an RNC official told NBC News. 

Upon speculation of where the convention might be moved, Joe Gruters, the chair of the Florida Republican Party, told NBC News that it "would welcome the opportunity to host the Republican National Convention."

"Florida is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and successful event for President Trump and all attendees," Gruters said. 

Trump has reportedly asked several aides about having the GOP convention in Florida, the New York Times reported

But Trump in a tweet denied this. 

"I have zero interest in moving the Republican National Convention to Doral in Miami, as falsely reported by the Fake News @nytimes in order to stir up trouble," he tweeted. "Ballroom is not nearly big enough & would like to stay in N.C., whose gov. doesn't even know if he can let people in?"

The Democratic National Convention, which was originally set for July, is now scheduled for August a week before the GOP convention. Organizers of the Democratic convention said they expect the delay to provide "more time to determine the most appropriate structure for this historic event."

The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 5.4 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 345,059 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1.6 million cases in the United States and at least 97,000 deaths, according to the latest tallies.

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