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Trump threatens to move GOP convention citing N.C. pandemic restrictions

By
Jean Lotus
Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their families stand on the stage at the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. On Monday, the president threatened to have the RNC moved out of Charlotte if North Carolina couldn't guarantee that thousands could attend the event. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their families stand on the stage at the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland on July 21, 2016. On Monday, the president threatened to have the RNC moved out of Charlotte if North Carolina couldn't guarantee that thousands could attend the event. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

May 25 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to cancel plans to hold the August Republican National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., if the state's governor could not guarantee he'd lift coronavirus-related restrictions to allow thousands to attend.

"Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena," Trump said in a series of four tweets.

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"Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August," Trump added. "They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. ... This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!"

Vice President Mike Pence, appearing on Fox News on Monday, said if guarantees could not be met by North Carolina, the Republican National Committee will consider moving the convention to Texas, Florida or Georgia.

"We all want to be in Charlotte, we love North Carolina, but having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved and we look forward to working with Gov. Cooper, getting a swift response, and if need be moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there," Pence said.

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Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper responded with a statement that state health officials were working with the Republican National Committee to "review its plans as they make decisions" about how to hold the convention in Charlotte.

"North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state's public safety," Cooper tweeted.

In July, workers are expected to begin a multimillion dollar upgrade of Charlotte's Spectrum Center arena, for which the Republican National Committee has said it will raise $65 million.

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The GOP plans to hold its convention Aug. 24-27, expecting to bring 50,000 people to Charlotte. Democrats will finish their convention in Milwaukee the week before, and have said they will alter events, making the convention largely virtual, to follow health safety precautions during the pandemic.

Charlotte has been a hot-spot for the COVID-19 outbreak. North Carolina is now in Phase 2 of the governor's coronavirus reopening plan, which limits indoor gatherings to 10 people.

North Carolina has seen almost 24,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 754 deaths, according to the state's department of health and human services.

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Charlotte City Council member Ed Driggs, a Republican, told the Charlotte Observer he believed the president was making "dramatic gestures," and said he doubted any other city could prepare to host the convention quickly enough. Charlotte has been working for two years to get ready for the convention.

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"I think this is the kind of thing that happens in politics, where, and particularly the president is known for dramatic gestures," Driggs said Monday. "I don't know whether that tweet by him is supported by the Republican Party ... I don't know how you would host a full convention on a couple of months' notice anywhere else," he said.

Trumps tweets Monday follow his pattern of social media threats on Democratic governors who have kept coronavirus-related restrictions in place.

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Last week, Trump threatened to withhold federal coronavirus aid money from Nevada and Michigan unless they backed down from vote-by-mail election plans.

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