WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Carolina’s Democratic governor on Tuesday refused Republican demands for a full-fledged presidential convention in the state this summer, telling organizers that planning for a scaled-down event was “a necessity” due to the coronavirus.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper as House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) looks on during a briefing on Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts aboard Air Force One on the ground at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
Governor Roy Cooper sent his letter to Republican Party leaders a day before the deadline President Donald Trump set for the state to guarantee that convention attendance in Charlotte would not be limited by social distancing restrictions.
Cooper said he could make no such promise for the four-day nominating convention scheduled to open on Aug. 24.
Without knowing how the COVID-19 outbreak will continue to unfold, he said, “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”
Republican officials so far have submitted proposals for a “full convention” rather than one with fewer participants and social distancing as requested by the state, Cooper said.
“As much as we want the conditions surrounding COVID-19 to be favorable enough for you to hold the convention you describe in late August, it is very unlikely,” Cooper said.
Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a Twitter post that the party would consider other locations for the convention and “begin visiting the multiple cities and states who have reached out to us.”
Republican officials are planning to visit Nashville, Tennessee, this week, according to a person familiar with discussions.
The RNC also is considering a split convention, with the votes on platform and rules taking place in Charlotte and the speeches and pageantry taking place in another city, such as Jacksonville, Florida, or Las Vegas, according to a source familiar with the discussions.
Democrats have delayed their convention in Milwaukee and left the door open to a revised format.
Reporting by Jason Lange; Additional reporting by Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Marguerita Choy