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GOP convention: Will North Carolina's loss be Georgia's gain?

Georgia Goc. Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump
Georgia Goc. Brian Kemp and President Donald Trump(WRDW)
Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 8:47 AM EDT
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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

It looks like the Republican National Convention won’t be held in North Carolina this summer after President Donald Trump said the GOP is being “forced to seek another state.”

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said last week that the Peach state would be happy to host the event if it’s not held in Charlotte.

Trump’s statement, delivered Tuesday night on Twitter, comes after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper responded to the Republican National Committee earlier in the day, saying it was “very unlikely” public health concerns over COVID-19 would allow for the “full convention” the president has requested for the RNC in Charlotte.

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“Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised,” President Trump wrote, in part, in a series of three tweets. “Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”

Cooper tweeted in response to President Trump again Tuesday night, saying state officials had been committed to a safe convention in Charlotte in August.

“We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority,” Cooper tweeted.

The city of Charlotte later tweeted that officials there have not received official notification from the RNC.

Kemp on May 26 offered Georgia its “world-class facilities” as host of the Republican National Convention.

Kemp, a Republican, sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.

Plans have been underway for more than a year to hold the convention in Charlotte, but Trump and national Republican officials have expressed concerns that local officials may not allow gatherings of that size during the pandemic.

“With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention," Kemp tweeted last week. “We hope you will consider the Peach State, ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩!

The convention is scheduled to be held in Charlotte in late August. The Republican National Committee recently sent a letter to Cooper stating it expects a full convention, no matter the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

The RNC committee’s defined a full convention as “19,000 delegates, alternate delegates, staff, volunteers, elected officials and guest inside the Spectrum Center.” The RNC said they are also expecting hotels to be full and restaurants and bars to be at capacity.

On May 26, Trump gave Cooper one week to make a decision about allowing full attendance at the convention before considering other locations for the convention.

While N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen responded to the RNC’s request with a follow-up letter detailing questions health officials wanted answered about convention plans, Cooper’s letter came just one day before the president’s deadline.

“We had appreciated your earlier acknowledgements that a successful and safe convention would need to be scaled back to protect the health of participants as well as North Carolinians,” Cooper wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, it appears that has now changed.”

Cooper wrote that he still wants a safe RNC convention in Charlotte that follows health guidelines set forth in the CDC’s guidance regarding mass gatherings.

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

From reports by WBTV, WRDW and The Associated Press

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