Politics

GOP officials pitch their states as convention sites after Trump threatens to move RNC out of North Carolina

Key Points
  • Several Republican officials are pitching their states as possible venues for the upcoming Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump threatened to move it out of North Carolina. 
  • Trump said he "will be reluctantly forced" to move the convention, which is set for the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte if the state doesn't ease up on social distancing restrictions to allow full attendance. 
  • Since his tweet, multiple governors and GOP officials have offered states such as Texas and Georgia as potential hosts. 
US President Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Committee winter meeting at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC on February 1, 2018.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Several Republican officials are pitching their states as possible venues for the upcoming Republican National Convention after President Donald Trump suggested moving it out of North Carolina over coronavirus-related social distancing restrictions. 

In a series of tweets on Monday, Trump said he "will be reluctantly forced" to move the convention, which is set for the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte, if the state doesn't ease up on social distancing restrictions to allow full attendance. 

Since his tweet, multiple Republican governors and party officials have offered their states as potential hosts. 

"Texas would welcome President Trump and the RNC Convention," Texas Republican Party Chairman James Dickey told CNBC in a statement. 

But not everyone in Texas is willing to welcome the RNC with open arms.

"The last thing we need right now is a large gathering of nationwide visitors coming to Dallas given we are currently at 'red' our highest threat level" for Covid-19, said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. "No offense. Would say the same thing to the Democrats — please go somewhere else."

"It doesn't matter where the RNC holds their convention, Donald Trump's historic unpopularity is going to cause him to lose Texas," the Texas Democratic Party told CNBC in a statement. "Nobody wants Trump in Texas. We recommend Trump host the RNC at one of his golf clubs."

Georgia chimed in, too. "With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention. We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump," Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted Tuesday.

But Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat, said the plan to reopen the city does not jibe with Kemp's desire to host the RNC. 

"Like North Carolina, the City of Atlanta is following a phased, data-driven approach to reopening. That plan does not contemplate hosting a large gathering event in August," Bottoms said. "In fact, several long-standing city-supported and sponsored events have already been canceled in order to comply with CDC guidelines."

There is interest from Florida as well, with multiple officials in the state pushing for the convention to be held there. 

Upon speculation about where the convention might be moved, Joe Gruters, 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. 

On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis echoed that sentiment. "Florida would love to have the RNC," he said during a news briefing with reporters.

Trump has reportedly asked several aides about having the GOP convention in Florida, The New York Times reported. In a Monday tweet, though, the president denied the report and struck one Florida location from consideration – his own Doral resort.

"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. 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?"

Vice President Mike Pence, siding with Trump on his push for North Carolina to relax social distancing guidelines for the convention, indicated interest in moving it to Texas, Florida or Georgia.

"These national conventions literally take many months to organize and prepare," Pence said in an interview Monday on the Fox News program "Fox and Friends." "And, you know, there are states around the country. We think of Texas, we think of Florida, Georgia – the last two states I visited last week that have made tremendous progress on reopening their communities and reopening their economies."

Meanwhile, the city of Charlotte is doubling down on Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper's guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus

"With the health and safety of our residents and visitors being the top priority, the city of Charlotte will continue to follow guidance from Governor Cooper and public health professionals in determining the best and safest way to host the Republican National Convention," said Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, a Democrat.

"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 president's threat to potentially move the RNC out of North Carolina seemed to come as a surprise for Cooper's office. A letter obtained by NBC News indicates that the state's Department of Health and Human Services and the RNC were in the middle of discussions about going forward with the convention. 

Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, said in the letter to RNC President Marcia Lee Kelly, that there was a call as early as Friday on the logistics of the upcoming convention.  

"The status of COVID-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve, thus, it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation," the letter said.

The outbreak has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 5.5 million confirmed cases worldwide and over 346,632 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 1.6 million cases in the United States and nearly 100,000 deaths, according to the latest tallies.