Cooper Calls Trump, RNC Demand for Full Convention ‘Very Unlikely’

By Billy Ball

June 2, 2020

As coronavirus lingers, Gov. Cooper addresses plans for the late August Republican National Convention in Charlotte. 

Gov. Roy Cooper told leaders with the Republican National Convention Tuesday that it is “very unlikely” the state can guarantee the full convention they want in August.

“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 wrote in a letter to RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and RNC President Marcia Lee Kelly.

“Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek.”

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Cooper shared the letter Tuesday (see below for the full letter), after days of back and forth with RNC leadership and President Donald Trump.

Republican leaders demanded a “full convention” in a May 30 letter to Cooper’s office, echoing Trump’s demands for guarantees that the late August event could be held at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center with more than 19,000 delegates, staff and volunteers. Republicans also demanded “full hotels and restaurants and bars at capacity.”

Trump has threatened that other states could host the convention in North Carolina’s stead.

But Cooper rebuffed GOP demands Tuesday, writing that the state could at least discuss plans for a “scaled-down convention.” 

“The people of North Carolina do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August, so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is necessary.”

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

McDaniel responded quickly Tuesday, writing in a statement that the RNC would begin visiting “multiple cities and states” that have reached out in recent days about hosting the convention. 

“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 while generating hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for the people of Charlotte and North Carolina,” McDaniel wrote.

However, Cooper has indicated multiple times that his office requested specific safety plans from RNC leadership, but has not received a response. 

The fracas with GOP leadership comes amid a tick upward in North Carolina’s coronavirus cases. As of Tuesday, state health officials had confirmed 28,889 cases and 921 deaths. The state is in Phase 2 of reopening, although Cooper’s administration has continued to face pressure from some in the GOP-controlled legislature to move more swiftly. 

Indeed, lawmakers in the Senate approved a bill last week moving to reopen bars for outdoor service. Cooper again rejected those proposals Tuesday. 

“It’s not time yet to enter into Phase 3,” said Cooper.  “And I have concerns about the legislature doing this and not leaving the flexibility to be able to deal with this virus if we have a surge on our hospitals.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates from Cardinal & Pine


  • Billy Ball

    Billy Ball is Cardinal & Pine's senior community editor. He’s covered local, state and national politics, government, education, criminal justice, the environment and immigration in North Carolina for almost two decades, winning state, regional and national awards for his reporting and commentary.

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