President Donald Trump demanded Monday, May 25 that North Carolina's Democratic governor sign off "immediately" on allowing the Republican National Convention to move forward in August with full attendance despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump said on Twitter that if Democratic Governor Roy Cooper does not immediately answer "whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied", then the party will find "with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site".
"State health officials are working with the RNC and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte", Cooper's spokesperson responded. Under current North Carolina regulations, any gatherings of over 10 people remain prohibited.
Before Monday, Cooper and Trump had displayed little friction during the pandemic.
A week ago, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel asserted on a call with reporters that the convention slated for August 24-27 would be held at least partly in person.
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When asked if he had seen evidence that would suggest the virus originated in the lab, Trump simply said: " Yes, I have ." . He has threatened to permanently stop funding to the agency and urged it to reconsider the country's membership to it.
Cooper told CNN his decision will not be political or emotional.
While Las Vegas had also been in the running to host the event, the city's Convention and Visitors Authority reportedly overruled local Republicans officials' efforts to see the RNC held there. She said the party enlisted a medical adviser and was consulting with the Charlotte mayor and the governor.
The US health secretary, Alex Azar, said increasing testing capacity would be important but did not say a traditional convention was a certainty. "It's a matter of what it looks like", the USA senator Thom Tillis, a North Carolina Republican who is up for re-election in 2020, told the Charlotte Observer last week. "North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state's public health and safety".
President Donald Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departing on Marine One May 21, 2020 in Washington, D.C. The president has threatened to pull plans to host the 2020 RNC in North Carolina.
Democrats have already delayed their own convention, which is preparing to nominate the former vice-president Joe Biden to face off against Trump.