President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are holding the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) hostage to force North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) to reopen his state enough to let the event space in Charlotte reach full capacity even during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” Trump tweeted on Monday morning.
He demanded that Cooper “immediately” inform GOP conventiongoers as to whether the event, which is scheduled for August 24 – 27, will be “allowed to be fully occupied” at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.
“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 President tweeted.
Several hours later, Trump denied having any plans to relocate the convention to his property in Doral, Florida, saying that its ballroom “is not nearly big enough.”
“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 (the New York Times reported only that Trump was privately asking why the RNC couldn’t be held in a hotel ballroom in Florida, not that he wanted it specifically in Doral).
Pence backed Trump’s threat on “Fox and Friends” on Monday morning, saying the President had made a “a very reasonable request.”
“We all want to be in Charlotte, we love North Carolina, but having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved,” he said. “And we look forward to working with Governor Cooper, getting a swift response and if needs be, if needs be, moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”
Dory MacMillan, Cooper’s press secretary, told TPM in an emailed statement that North Carolina health officials 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,” she said.
The Republican National Committee concurs with Trump and Pence, committee spokesperson Steve Guest said in a statement.
“The RNC wants to hold a full in-person convention in Charlotte, but we need the governor to provide assurances that it can occur,” Guest said. “We will need some answers sooner rather than later, or we will be forced to consider other options.”
Last week, Republican Party chair Ronna McDaniel told reporters that the GOP “will not be holding a virtual convention.”
The convention’s communications department did not respond to request for comment.
Watch Pence below:
Pence says Trump made a "very reasonable request" in threatening to relocate RNC if NC Gov. Roy Cooper doesn't lift stay-at-home restrictions enough to allow full attendance at event. pic.twitter.com/MLTkSzqeAM
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) May 25, 2020