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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

On Charlotte RNC, Trump Says Gov. Cooper Is 'Playing Politics' By Reopening Slowly

Spectrum Center
Erin Keever
Charlotte is contractually obligated to host the Republican National Convention Aug. 25-27th. But President Trump on Thursday said Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is "playing politics" with reopening the state.

President Trump said in an interview Thursday that he will have to be careful about holding the Republican National Convention in Charlotte because the state has a "Democrat governor" whom the president accused of "playing politics" with reopening.

Trump talked about the RNC in a wide-ranging interview with Salena Zito of the Washington Examiner. 

Zito mentions to the president that the Democratic Natonal Committee is "considering all sorts of options, including not holding their convention."

The president criticized presumptive nominee Joe Biden, and said the party would be better served by saving money and not holding a convention.

Trump then said: "We'll have a convention. I'm a traditionalist, but we'll have to see, like everything else, but I think we'll be in good shape by that time. We have a great state, North Carolina, that's been very, very good. Although, it's got a Democrat governor, so we have to be a little bit careful. It's got a Democrat governor, so we have to be a little bit careful with that, because they're playing politics. They're playing politics, as you know, by delaying the openings."

The president continued, "To me that's politics. They think it's a bad thing for me if they delay the opening. I think it's bad for them. And you have people protesting outside, and those people like Trump."

In an interview with WFAE on Thursday, Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, said the GOP is commited to holding the convention in Charlotte. She said that the first week of July will be a critical moment for convention planners as to whether the event can take place as planned or whether it would need to be modified.

McDaniel said it's possible that people could be wearing masks inside the Spectrum Center. She also left open the possibility that parts of the convention could he held in smaller venues or even outside.

But McDaniel said the RNC is committed to Charlotte. She said the president hadn't been actively following convention planning in Charlotte.

"To be honest, I think he’s going to wait until we get a little closer and we can give an evaluation and we can get guidance from the governor and mayor," she said. "I mean we can lay all the plans for the RNC and if the governor says something different that’s going to change things."

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper has reopened the state slower than neighboring states like South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, who all have Republican governors.

For the RNC, the most critical public health mandate is the governor's limit on the size of gatherings, which is currently 10 people.

That's expected to increase when the state moves into Phase 2, which could happen as early as May 22.

But it's unknown how many people will be allowed inside the Spectrum Center when the RNC reaches what it said is a "critical moment" in early July in terms of convention planning.

The Democratic National Committee this week voted to allow for a virtual convention. Its convention is scheduled for Milwaukee on Aug. 17.

If the RNC were to move the convention from Charlotte, it's unclear if the city would have any legal recourse if it wanted to challenge that decision.

The City Council, which has a 9-2 Democratic majority, is sharply divided on whether the city should host the RNC. It recently voted 6-5 to accept a $50 million federal security grant for the convention. Some members who voted no -- like Braxton Winston and Matt Newton -- said the city shouldn't host what could be a "super-spreader" event for COVID-19.

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