Trump threatens to pull the GOP convention from North Carolina if the state can’t promise a full-capacity arena, blaming the governor’s ‘shutdown mood’

President Donald Trump at a ceremony to honour US veterans on Friday. Associated Press
  • President Donald Trump has threatened to relocate the 2020 Republican National Convention from North Carolina because its governor has not promised the venue will operate at full capacity.
  • “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 Monday.
  • The 20,000-seat Spectrum Centre in Charlotte is due to host the convention August 24-27. The convention’s event page still says 50,000 people are expected to visit over the four days.
  • North Carolina, which reported a record number of new coronavirus cases on Saturday, is reopening slowly.
  • Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News that Florida, Georgia, or Texas could host the event if Cooper could not ensure full capacity.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has threatened to move this year’s Republican National Convention away from North Carolina, citing the “shutdown mood” of the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper.

Trump said Cooper had not confirmed to him that the Spectrum Centre in Charlotte would operate at full capacity August 24-27, when the convention is scheduled.

“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.^tfw

The Spectrum Centre has 20,000 seats, and the official event page, which does not mention the coronavirus, still says 50,000 people are expected to visit over the four days.

“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,” Trump said.

Trump said losing the convention would also mean losing any financial benefits it might bring to the state.

“If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site,” he said. “This is not something I want to do.”

N. Carolina Roy Cooper coronavirus
Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina in Raleigh on March 3. AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Dory MacMillan, a spokeswoman for Cooper, told the Associated Press: “State 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.”

North Carolina, which is slowly reopening, has reported 23,997 COVID-19 infections and 780 deaths in the state.

Mar 13, 2020; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Empty parking area across from the Spectrum Centre in Charlotte after the game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets was cancelled due to the Corona Virus. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
The Spectrum Centre in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 11. Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, the state moved into phase two of reopening. It is now no longer compulsory to stay at home, but gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

“These limits apply to the following: event venues; conference centres; stadiums and sports arenas; amphitheaters; and groups at parks or beaches,” Cooper said.

The measures will not change before June 26, Cooper added.

The state, however, is still struggling to contain the outbreak. Some 1,107 new cases were reported Saturday, the highest daily tally yet.

Regarding the convention, the mayor of Charlotte, Vi Lyles, said on May 18 that the safety of the city came first.

“We have a contract with the RNC to host this convention, but we also have a commitment to our community that we will keep them safe and well,” she said.

Donald Trump accepts nomination at 2016 RNC
Trump accepts the Republican nomination for president on the last night of the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“We can’t go into this with just, ‘Well, we agreed to something in 2018 and we’re going to continue to do it,'” she said. “That is not the world today.”

There has been vocal opposition to Cooper’s stay-at-home orders in North Carolina.

Hundreds of protesters under the banner ReopenNC have demonstrated every Monday, saying the lockdown impinges on their constitutional rights.

Vice President Mike Pence echoed Trump’s sentiments on Monday, saying Texas, Florida, or Georgia could host the event instead.

“It’s an issue we’ve been talking about because these national conventions literally take many months to organise and prepare and there are, 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,”Pence told Fox News.