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States are trying to lure the Republican National Convention away from North Carolina

The wooing comes after President Trump threatened to move the convention unless he gets a "guarantee" there won't be any health restrictions.
Image: Delegates cheer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016.
Delegates cheer at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016.Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images file

One state's health concerns are being viewed as a potential cash cow by others.

After President Donald Trump on Monday threatened to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina because of potential coronavirus health restrictions, other states are offering themselves as alternatives.

"With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention. We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump !" Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted on Tuesday.

Trump reiterated his stance on Tuesday, telling reporters at the White House "we need a fast decision" from North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper. "He’s been acting very very slowly and very suspiciously," Trump said.

"We have to know that when the people come down, they’re going to have the doors open," the president said, adding that he wants a decision from Cooper "within a week." If the state doesn't want to proceed with a full convention, Trump said, there are "a lot of locations" that do want it.

Potential alternatives include Florida, where the state Republican party tweeted a statement Monday from party chair Joe Gruters offering Trump's new home state for the summer convention.

"Florida is committed to ensuring a safe, secure and successful event for President @realDonaldTrump and all attendees,” Gruters said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis weighed in at a press conference Tuesday, saying "Florida would love to have the RNC."

He said he hasn’t spoken to Trump about the issue, but his office has been in touch with the White House and the Trump campaign.

“We should try to get it done as best we can in accordance with whatever safety requirements. His government will be talking about the safety restrictions, the president’s government,” DeSantis said.

“If we can get that done and do that in a way that’s safe that would be a huge economic impact for Florida,” he added.

Trump knocked down one potential Florida locale on Monday, tweeting that "I have zero interest in moving the Republican National Convention to Doral in Miami, as falsely reported by the Fake News @nytimes in order to stir up trouble," although the paper did not report he was planning on holding the event at the Doral, a property he owns.

Trump said the Doral's ballroom "is not nearly big enough & would like to stay in N.C., whose gov. doesn’t even know if he can let people in?"

The chairman of the Texas Republican Party threw the Lone Star State's hat in the ring too.

"Texas would welcome President Trump and the RNC Convention," James Dickey, told the Austin American-Statesman.

North Carolina recently reported its highest number of new cases in a single day, and Cooper's said he intends to use "data and science" to protect the state's public health.

Cooper sidestepped a question on the other states' offers at a press conference Tuesday, but said state officials have had discussions with the convention organizers "about a limited convention" and that they "want to see in writing what their plans are."

"We've been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention that they would need to run and the kind of options that we need on the table," he said, adding that "we have to put the health and safety of North Carolinians as the guiding star in this process."

"It's okay for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be," he said.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles told NBC News on Tuesday that "the city of Charlotte will continue to follow guidance from Governor Cooper and public health professionals in determining the best and safest way to host the Republican National Convention."

"While I've remained consistent in my statements regarding the RNC being held in Charlotte, the science and data will ultimately determine what we will collectively do for our city," she said.

The state's health secretary, Mandy Cohen, wrote a letter to the convention's president, Marcia Lee Kelly, asking for written plans from the RNC "as soon as possible" including "several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation."

She noted that she and Kelly had "discussed on Friday the need to plan for different levels of impact of COVID-19 so the RNC convention logistics could be tailored to the COVID-19 situation we find ourselves in at the end of August."

Despite the talks, a committee official said in a statement Monday that “The RNC wants to hold a full in-person convention in Charlotte, but we need the governor to provide assurances that it can occur. We will need some answers sooner rather than later, or we will be forced to consider other options.”

That statement came shortly after Trump tweeted he needs a "guarantee" the venue would be able to be at full capacity for the event, which is currently scheduled Aug. 24-27. The Republican National Committee said last week it was planning for an event that would gather 50,000 people, although NBC News reported last month that Republican officials were quietly making contingency plans for a scaled-back convention, if necessary.

"Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, [Roy Cooper] is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena," Trump tweeted.

“If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site," he said.

Charlotte was selected to host the event back in July of 2018.

Vice President Mike Pence acknowledged to Fox News in an interview on Monday that there had been ongoing conversations about moving the event, and suggested states already further along in the reopening process than North Carolina could make more sense.

"There are states around the country, we think of Texas, we think of Florida, Georgia . . . that have made tremendous progress on reopening their communities and reopening their economies, and I think the president is absolutely intent on ensuring that as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past, that come this August, we'll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue, and re-nominate President Donald Trump for four more years," Pence said.