RALEIGH — President Donald Trump said Monday the Republican National Convention could be moved out of Charlotte if the state’s Democratic governor doesn’t answer whether or not the downtown arena will be allowed to be fully occupied.
On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper moved the state into a second phase of gradual reopening by loosening restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants. But he said the state must continue to closely watch virus trends and has ordered indoor entertainment venues, gyms and bars to remain closed for several more weeks.
“Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed… full attendance in the Arena,” Trump tweeted Monday.
He added that Republicans “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced…to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”
Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the tweets.
In an interview Monday on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends,” Vice President Mike Pence noted convention planning takes months and praised the reopening strides made by Texas, Florida and Georgia — all states with Republican governors.
“What you hear the president saying today is just a very reasonable request of the governor of North Carolina. We all want to be in Charlotte. We love North Carolina,” Pence said. “But having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved, and we look forward to working with Governor Cooper, getting a swift response and, if needs be, if needs be, moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”
A week ago, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said on a call with reporters the convention slated for Aug. 24-27 would be held at least partly in person. She said the party enlisted a medical adviser and was consulting with the Charlotte mayor and the governor.
Before Monday, Cooper and Trump had yet to publicly spar during the pandemic. While Cooper has urged the federal government to help North Carolina get more testing supplies and protective gear, he’s avoided criticizing Trump by name. Trump, meanwhile, has largely refrained from calling out Cooper as he has other Democratic governors.
Cooper, who narrowly beat Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in 2016 while Trump won the state, faces a challenge in November’s gubernatorial race from Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who has urged a faster reopening of state businesses.