RNC gives North Carolina until June 3 to approve convention proposal
(CBS News) — Hours after North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called on the Republican National Committee to outline how the party plans to conduct a safe national convention, the RNC sent a list of health and safety protocols for approval on Thursday. The memo, addressed to the Democratic governor, came with a hard deadline of June 3.
Earlier this month, the CEO of Charlotte’s Host Committee, John Lassiter, told the Charlotte Business Journal that the local body has raised more than $50 million of its $70 million fundraising goal for this year’s convention. That money would not move with the convention to a new venue in Florida or Georgia.
The letter makes no mention of wearing face masks, which is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, and which is a measure that the president does not follow.
The RNC also promised “anti-bacterial gel will be widely available” in the arena and an “aggressive sanitizing protocol” will be in place for all public areas. Once attendees pass through these areas, GOP officials plan to transport them by bus to the convention center, which “will act as a mandatory hub for a final health care screening by health care officials.”
Earlier this month, the RNC hired physician Dr. Jeffrey Runge as a senior adviser for convention planning to ensure that the in-person convention in August is safe for the thousands who are expected to attend.
The GOP memo marks the most recent development in an ongoing saga that began with a series of tweets from the president earlier this week. Mr. Trump threatened to move the convention from North Carolina if Cooper did not lift restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, to allow for “full attendance.”
The president said Monday that Cooper would need to make “a fast decision” about whether the party could hold its convention at full capacity, and he complained that the North Carolina Democrat has “been acting very, very slowly and very suspiciously.”
“We have to know before we spend millions and millions of dollars on an arena to make it magnificent for the convention,” Mr. Trump remarked. “If he feels that he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us and then we’ll have to pick another location. And I will tell you a lot of locations want it.”
Republican governors in Florida and Georgia welcomed the idea of hosting the convention in their respective states.
But former GOP Convention officials say the RNC could face legal challenges if it packs up the convention and takes it out of North Carolina. The party signed a contractual agreement with the city of Charlotte upon accepting its bid to host the Convention in July 2018.
In April, the Charlotte City Council accepted a $50 million security grant from the Justice Department. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has already begun administering the money for security preparations for the convention.
Earlier this month, the lead fundraiser for Charlotte’s Host Committee, Louis DeJoy, told the Charlotte Business Journal that the local body has raised more than $50 million of its $70 million fundraising goal for this year’s convention. That money would not move with the convention to a new venue in Florida or Georgia.
“Raising the dollars for another convention in another city – forget the infrastructural requirements – that’s a huge challenge,” a former Republican convention official told CBS News.
“The president wants to have the convention here in North Carolina,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chair Michael Whatley. “We have no intention of moving it unless, of course, the governor were to make it impossible for us to host the convention, and I frankly just don’t think we’re gonna get there.”
Cooper said Thursday that North Carolina was ready to host the convention “in a safe way” and suggested that the RNC merely needed to submit its plans, just as NASCAR did for its recent race in the state.
“When NASCAR wanted to run the race in North Carolina, we asked them for plans about how they’re going to run the race in a safe way. NASCAR submitted those plans to our health officials, health officials gave feedback…and they ended up putting on a very safe and entertaining NASCAR race,” said Cooper. “We hope the same thing can happen with the RNC convention.”