RNC Planners: 'We Need To Stop Pretending Any Part Of Convention Remains In Charlotte'

Jun 12, 2020

The local host committee for Charlotte's 2020 Republican National Committee said Friday that its work has been met with "broken promises" and that "we need to stop pretending there's any part of the convention that will remain in Charlotte."

The Spectrum Center had been the planned location for many of the events of the RNC, including Pres. Trump's acceptance speech.
Credit Jennifer Lang / WFAE

The statement came after the Republican National Committee on Thursday night officially named Jacksonville, Florida, as the new home for most of the convention, including President Trump's acceptance speech on the final night of the convention, Aug. 27.

The host committee has been tasked with raising $70 million for the convention. Its president is John Lassiter, a former city council member.

The organization has said it's already raised $50 million for the event.

The GOP plans to bring six delegates from each state and territory to Charlotte to officially nominate the president and vice president for a second term. That could happen in the Charlotte Convention Center, according to a letter attorneys for the RNC sent the city, county, CRVA and the Charlotte Hornets on Friday morning.

The RNC said it will not use the Spectrum Center, which was supposed to be main venue for the convention. It advised the host committee not to make any additional payments toward using the arena.

The RNC asked that the city and host committee "refrain from incurring any additional costs that are no longer necessary as a result of the scaled-down Convention that we will host in Charlotte." That includes hotel rooms, venues, transportation, security, as well as marketing, PR and signage.

Even with the scaled-down event, the RNC said, "we anticipate holding the Convention in Charlotte pursuant to our contractual obligations."

On Friday evening, the city of Charlotte issued a response.

The GOP decided to move Trump's acceptance speech after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn't give the party an assurance that it could fill the Spectrum Center with 19,000 people, with no face coverings and social distancing.

But in the letter, the RNC cited Cooper's existing rules that cap the number of people who are allowed to gather indoors at 10.

"We have no choice but to host the Convention-related celebrations and related events elsewhere," attorneys for the Republican National Committee wrote. "The Governor’s Executive Order prohibits us from conducting our Convention-related celebrations in Charlotte. And we cannot wait any longer to see if and when the Governor may loosen the restrictions in his Order — particularly when COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Carolina."

The RNC did not say how a small, "business-only" convention in Charlotte might unfold.

The formal convention was supposed to start Aug. 24. It said that starting Aug. 21, some committees may meet on "various party matters." In addition, the party will hold the 2020 summer meeting on Aug. 21 and 22.

There will be no speeches given in Charlotte.

In the letter, the RNC compared this year's arrangement to the circumstances when Abraham Lincoln was nominated in 1860.

"By celebrating the Republican Party’s nomination in this manner, President Trump will be following in the footsteps of the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, who accepted the Party’s 1860 nomination in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, five days after the vote to nominate him took place," the letter said.

Republicans looked at several cities to host the celebratory parts of the RNC, including Nashville, Tennessee; Savannah, Georgia; Dallas and Phoenix.

But Jacksonville had an enthusiastic mayor in Lenny Curry, who is a former chair of the state Republican Party.