President Trump tweeted Tuesday night that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper “forced” him to seek another state for the Republican National Convention. Cooper said earlier Tuesday that the likelihood that the convention will take place in Charlotte depends on the party’s willingness to scale back its event.
“Roy Cooper and his representatives refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena,” he said, adding that Cooper is still in “shelter-in-place mode.” Mr. Trump said that the convention would bring in “millions of dollars” and “would have showcased beautiful North Carolina to the World.”
Cooper informed the Republican National Committee in a letter that it’s “very unlikely” the GOP would be able to host a “full convention” in August. In the ongoing saga between the RNC and Cooper’s administration, the two are at odds over health and safety measures and the size of the crowds that can be accommodated.
“They have demanded a full 19,000-person crowd at the inside arena in Charlotte. We’ve continued to say we want to talk with you about a scaled-down convention, but we cannot guarantee you that at the end of August, you can have a full arena,” Cooper said during a press conference Tuesday. “And we’re still waiting for answers to our health questions about how they would take steps to protect people about social distancing and face masks and we have not heard a response from that.”
The press conference came minutes after RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel released a statement saying that the RNC has “an obligation” to delegates and the president to visit “multiple cities and states” that have expressed interest in hosting “an historic event.”
“We have now communicated to Governor Cooper’s office multiple times that we would like to showcase Charlotte and the wonderful state of North Carolina to the world by hosting the convention we contracted for nearly two years ago, tweeted McDaniel. “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.”
An RNC official said after Mr. Trump’s tweets that “due to the directive from the governor that our convention cannot go on as planned as required by our rules, the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city. Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte.”
But former GOP convention officials tell CBS News the RNC could face legal challenges if it packs up the convention and takes it out of North Carolina. The party signed a contractual agreement with the city of Charlotte upon accepting its bid to host the Convention in July 2018.
In April, the Charlotte City Council accepted a $50 million security grant from the Justice Department. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has already begun administering the money for security preparations for the convention.
CBS News has confirmed that Republican officials will be visiting Nashville at the end of the week, likely Thursday or Friday. The trip is being coordinated by GOP Governor Bill Lee’s office, according to Nashville city officials. While details have not been solidified, officials plan to visit the Bridgestone Arena in the downtown area. A spokesperson from the Nashville mayor’s office said the city currently has “no plans to use our limited public funds to recruit this convention at this time.”
Several Tennessee GOP officials were surprised by reports that their city is being considered as a new venue for the convention. Tennessee GOP chairman Scott Golden says that while the city would “welcome” the Republican National Convention, many were looking forward to the Charlotte convention. Most of Tennessee’s delegates have already bought airplane tickets to Charlotte, Golden told CBS News.
Other states, like Georgia and Florida, have also expressed interest in hosting the gathering. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ office says it has not spoken with RNC officials or local officials about bringing the convention to Orlando, DeSantis said during a press conference last week that his team had “let the folks at the White House know” Florida welcomed the idea.
After Mr. Trump’s tweet on Tuesday night, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp tweeted “Hope you’ve got Georgia on your mind @RealDonaldTrump!”