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Trump Will Land in Charlotte - But White House Schedule Says No Trip To RNC

Steve Harrison/WFAE
President Trump is landing in Charlotte Monday morning. But his travel schedule said he won't drive 15 minutes to visit the RNC.

President Trump is scheduled to land at Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 11:45 a.m. Monday after leaving Washington, D.C.

His arrival comes as delegates at the one-day Republican National Convention are scheduled to nominate him at the Charlotte Convention Center for a second term. While delegates have believed he would come to uptown to witness the roll call, the White House travel schedule Sunday night said he will only be at the Charlotte airport for five minutes.

The president is then travelling to Fletcher, near Asheville, likely by helicopter. He will then travel to Mills River, where he will tour Flavor First Growers and Packers, which  partners to make Farmers to Families Food Boxes to needy families.   

John Steward, a North Carolina delegate, said Sunday he and other delegates were expecting the president to come to the RNC. 

“It just ratchets everything up to another level to have the president attend - on both sides,” he said. “I think it also ratches up the protestors.”

It's possible the president didn't want to come to the Convention Center because his formal nomination will be a scene that he has long wanted to avoid - delegates wearing masks and staying six feet apart. Earlier this summer, the president clashed with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper when he didn't allow the RNC to pack the Spectrum Center.

That led the president and the GOP to move most of the convention to Jacksonville, Florida. When coronavirus cases spiked there, Republicans canceled that part of the convention. 

The Republican National Committee held meetings Saturday and Sunday at the Westin.

Given all the downsides about the 2020 RNC – no parties, no cocktail hours and extreme social distancing – North Carolina GOP party chair Michael Whatley said delegates are pretty upbeat.

“I guess if there is really any sort of sadness or disappointment it’s that we’re only allowed to have six delegates per state or territory here,” he said. “And so we know that a lot of a lot of good Republicans who got elected to the these delegate slots from all across the country don’t have the opportunity to be here.”

The GOP made every delegate wear masks and equipped their badges with Bluetooth technology to make contact tracing easier in case someone is infected with the coronavirus.

North Carolina delegate Miriam Chu of Moore County said everyone is adjusting.

“It’s not like having a regular convention, no,” she said. “But at the same time, people are excited about the mission. I mean, that’s the basic thing.”

That missions starts Monday morning when 336 delegates will be spread across a cavernous Convention Center ballroom. They will nominate the president for a second term around lunchtime. In a typical convention there would be 2,500 delegates plus thousands of others inside an arena.

After Monday’s nomination, the Charlotte RNC ends. Everyone flies home to watch the rest of the convention unfold virtually, as the DNC did a week ago.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott from South Carolina will speak Monday night.

But, as of now, there is only one North Carolina elected official or candidate speaking – Madison Cawthorn, who is running for an open seat in the 11th U.S. House District in western North Carolina. Incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis, who is in a tight battle with Democrat Cal Cunningham, is not on the list of speakers.

Greensboro civil rights pioneer Clarence Henderson, who participated in the 1960 lunch counter sit-ins, will speak Wednesday. Evangelist and missionary Franklin Graham, who lives in Boone,  is scheduled to speak Thursday.