President Trump pressed the Democratic governor of North Carolina on Monday to "guarantee" that he will allow "full capacity" at this summer's Republican National Convention, dangling the economic blow Charlotte would take if the event were held elsewhere.
Trump's tweets about the August RNC in Charlotte came shortly days after North Carolina's largest daily increase in coronavirus virus cases yet. Although Trump is a shoo-in as the presumptive nominee, the proceedings would still provide him with a forum to rally Republican delegates and voters ahead of the November election.
"We all want to be in Charlotte, we love North Carolina", Pence said.
Gov. Roy Cooper allowed the state to enter a second phase of gradual reopening Friday with some further loosening of restrictions on hair salons, barbers and restaurants. But he said the state must move cautiously, and he kept indoor entertainment venues, gyms and bars closed.
He said the RNC would spend millions of dollars "building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space".
The convention is now slated to take place in Charlotte, N.C., from August 24-27, but Trump raised the idea of moving it to another site on Monday - following concerns from the North Carolina's Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper about the massive gathering amid the coronavirus pandemic. Pre-pandemic, Republicans estimated the convention would draw 50,000 visitors.
To some top Republicans, Trump's decision to publicly call out Cooper was a strategic attempt to make the Democratic governor - who is up for reelection in 2020 - the scapegoat for any changes that need to be made to the convention.
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. This is based on health experts, data and science and that's it for everybody to see.
Walmart employees conduct COVID-19 testing for pre-registered individuals in the store's carpark in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
David Shafer, chairman of Georgia's state Republican Party, said in a text message that he spoke to Kemp on Tuesday morning. "Every state we talk to says we want to nominate the president here, but this governor is up for re-election and hasn't given us the reassurances we need", she said, adding that other states have inquired about hosting. The city's bid was approved by the city council with a one-vote margin in 2018, with council members debating whether or not they could host the convention without endorsing his policies. Before the vote, City Attorney Patrick Baker noted the overall contract requires parties to follow applicable laws and regulations, including Cooper's executive orders. Baker said then that GOP officials had discussed convention alternatives but did not elaborate.
But Cooper gave Republicans no immediate assurances that the Spectrum Center would be fully available for their August 24-27 convention. Almost 800 people have died, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, giving the state the 21st highest death count.
But the Republican-controlled state has still shown an eagerness to reopen and kickstart its economy after a statewide stay-at-home order expired on April 30.
The state reported almost 24,000 positive cases on Monday, a daily increase of about 740. Monday's state tally includes about 750 deaths and 600 current hospitalisations.
Trump was attempting to force Cooper "to be the bad guy", a Republican operative familiar with the convention process told CNN. To serve as a studio audience for a reality TV show with a foregone conclusion - i.e. the latest self-coronation of a nattering and narcissistic nabob who probably can't name three cities in North Carolina?