The Republican National Committee, due to contractual agreements, will still have to hold a formal part of the convention in Charlotte. But the performative aspects of the convention, including the president’s speech, will happen in another city.
“The night the president accepts the nomination it will not happen in Charlotte,” an RNC official told CNN.
Two knowledgeable sources cautioned that the decision appears not to be final. But sources say there have been tense talks in the past 48 hours between the RNC and the governor’s office before Trump’s self-imposed deadline, which is Wednesday.
The apparent move comes after tense negotiations between Republican officials and officials from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s office. Trump, in the past two weeks, began attacking Cooper over the drama of the convention, a strategy Republicans have said he seeks to make the Democratic governor a scapegoat if the convention cannot go as planned due to the coronavirus.
Cooper, the president tweeted, “It is still in Shelter mode in place and does not allow us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised. It would have exposed beautiful North Carolina to the world and brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, and jobs. , for the state “.
“Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to find another State to organize the 2020 Republican National Convention,” he said.
The plan now is to have Trump’s speech and some other events in another city.
“Due to the governor’s directive that our convention cannot continue as planned as our rules require, the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will take place in another city,” said another Republican official. “If the governor allows more than 10 people in one room, we still hope to carry out the official business of the convention in Charlotte.”
“We are contractually obligated to go to Charlotte,” an official explained, noting that the “convention issue” must occur in that city. But since that is not formally defined, RNC officials are working to determine what part of the convention should take place in Charlotte.
This official points out that this is happening as a direct result of Cooper’s latest letter, in which he says that the RNC should plan “a reduced convention with fewer people.”
“We are reducing because he is telling us,” said the official.
Cooper wrote in a letter to Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and Convention Executive Director Marcia Lee Kelly that she would like to continue the conversation with the organizers, but unless they offer a very different plan, the chances that Charlotte being able to organize the August event are “very unlikely”.
“The people of North Carolina don’t know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August, so it is necessary to plan a reduced convention with fewer people, social distancing, and costumes,” Cooper wrote. “We are happy to continue talking to you about what a reduced convention would look like and we are still awaiting your proposed plan for that.”
Following Trump’s tweet, Cooper said it was “unfortunate” that no deal was made.
Contingency planning is up to the point that party officials plan to travel to Nashville later this week to explore possible locations, the sources said, and may travel to other sites in the near future. Both Nashville and Las Vegas were possible host cities before the Republicans officially elected Charlotte.
President McDaniel acknowledged in a statement after Cooper’s letter that Republicans are looking for alternative locations.
“We look forward to continuing to conduct the business of our convention in Charlotte, but we have an obligation to our delegates and nominees to begin visiting the many cities and states that we have approached in recent days to host a landmark event to demonstrate that The United States is open to business, “she says in the statement.
McDaniel also accused Cooper of “shuffling” to provide guidance to planners.
Prior to Cooper’s response, Michael Ahrens, spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said: “As we have said all along, we are committed to holding our convention in Charlotte, but we are still waiting for Governor Cooper to confirm that the originally contracted convention is still you can keep it there. “
The planned trips, which Politician first reported, are a clear attempt by Republicans to show they are serious about withdrawing from the Charlotte convention.
Despite the pressure, Cooper, who will run for reelection in November, has not budged from his position that the state of the pandemic will dictate whether Republicans can fully meet in Charlotte.
“We are talking about something that will happen in three months, and we don’t know what our situation will be with respect to Covid-19 in North Carolina,” Cooper said last week. “We would like to come to a resolution where everyone can be reasonable about making public health, safety, science and facts the most important thing we are trying to do here.”
Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s questions about the planned scouting trips.
Where Republicans have set out to hold a convention in person, largely unchanged, Democrats have been open about the possibility that the event could change significantly or be entirely virtual. Its Milwaukee convention was moved from mid-July to mid-August due to concerns about the coronavirus in April.
This story and its headline have been updated with additional developments on Tuesday night.
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc contributed to this report.