Republicans to drop North Carolina as host of party's convention

Finding a venue and throwing together an event in less than three months is probably going to be trickier than Team Trump realizes.
Image: The Republican National Committee holds a media walkthrough for the 2020 Republican National Convention that will be held from Aug. 24-27, 2020
The Republican National Committee holds a media walkthrough for the 2020 Republican National Convention that will be held from Aug. 24-27, 2020 to choose the 2020 Republican presidential nominee in the Spectrum Center Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, Nov. 12, 2019.Jim Bourg / Reuters file

Last week, Donald Trump sought a "guarantee" from North Carolina that it would give the president what he wants: 50,000 Republicans, standing side by side at his party's national convention, cheering him in an indoor venue, without regard for the painfully obvious health risks.

Several days later, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) spoke directly to the president, who told the governor he'd insist on a Republican National Convention in which there would be no face coverings and no social distancing among attendees -- despite the fact that infection rates are on the rise in the state.

Cooper said yesterday that the only safe and responsible way to proceed would be with proper health protocols in place. Soon after, Trump offered a public reply.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he will seek another state to host the Republican National Convention because North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, had refused to guarantee that coronavirus restrictions wouldn't affect the party's nominating convention.

As part of a series of whiny tweets, Trump concluded, "We are now forced to seek another state to host the 2020 Republican National Convention."

Recent years have made it painfully clear that the president's declarations often have no direct relationship to reality, and with that in mind, just because Trump tweeted that the Republican convention is moving out of North Carolina doesn't mean we should necessarily assume that the Republican convention is moving out of North Carolina.

That said, he's not the only one making comments along these lines. Michael Ahrens, communications director of the Republican National Committee, also said that "the celebration of the president's acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city."

The New York Times reported, however, that party officials "also said they could still hold other convention business in Charlotte, so as not to break a formal contract they signed with the city more than two years ago."

Trump may have a history of skipping out on contracts he no longer feels like honoring, but the RNC may find it a bit more difficult. Indeed, as NBC News' report added, the official City of Charlotte Twitter handle wrote, "We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions."

And that's just part of the mess that's poised to unfold. The logistical challenges associated with a national convention are considerable, which is why the Republican National Committee started exploring its options in 2017, and finalized its plans in early 2018.

The party's gathering is scheduled to begin on Aug. 24. Finding a venue and throwing together an event in less than three months -- all because the president wants to pretend the coronavirus threat has disappeared, reality notwithstanding -- is probably going to be trickier than Team Trump realizes.

That said, RNC officials will reportedly visit Nashville this week. Las Vegas, which was the runner-up before Charlotte was chosen, is also reportedly in the mix, as are Orlando and Jacksonville.