Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina unless it reopens

Graig Graziosi
Republicans celebrate at their convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2016 after Donald Trump's acceptance speech: AP

President Donald Trump threatened to move the location of the 2020 Republican National Convention in August if North Carolina's Democratic governor doesn't allow the party to use the current venue restriction free.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Mr Trump said he would move the convention if North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper didn't lift attendance restrictions on The Spectrum Center, the current site of the August Republican National Convention.

"I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed ... full attendance in the Arena," Mr Trump said.

After expressing his frustration, Mr Trump threatened to move the convention unless the governor agrees to let the party use the space unfettered.

"...[The Republicans] 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. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina."

He argued that under the current circumstances, the Republicans would have to commit to spending "millions of dollars" preparing the venue for the event without even knowing if they'll be allowed to use the space to their liking.

"In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space," Mr Trump tweeted.

Vice President Mike Pence appeared on Fox and Friends to discuss the president's ultimatum and suggest alternative sites for the convention. He said Mr Trump's request was "very reasonable" and echoed the president's sentiments.

"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," Mr Pence said. "We look forward to working with Governor Cooper, getting a swift response, and if need be moving the national convention to a state that is father along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there."

Later the president angrily tweeted what he said was a "fake news" report by the New York Times that he was planning to move the convention to his own resort in Doral – only for Maggie Haberman, the paper's White House correspondent, to point out that her paper had made no such claim.

The Republicans are aiming to raise $65 million for the convention. Much of that money will go to preparing the venue, which is slated to begin in mid-July.

The nominating conventions for the 2020 election are scheduled within a week of each other. The Democrats are scheduled to hold their convention in Milwaukee, and the Republicans' convention - barring Mr Trump moving the convention - is planned for 24 -27 August in Charlotte.

Mr Trump's demands are the latest in his overall push to speed up state reopening efforts, despite the persistent threat of the coronavirus. Despite his demand for states to reopen, the number of deaths has continued to grow, nearing the 100,000 mark.

North Carolina reported there were 1,107 new Covid-19 cases in its state on Saturday, the highest it has reported since the outbreak began.

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