Trump says he's yanking RNC from North Carolina over potential coronavirus restrictions

The president said he wants another state to host the Republican convention after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper wouldn't make guarantees.

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By Jane C. Timm and Monica Alba

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.

"Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-in-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised," he wrote in a string of tweets. "We are now forced to seek another state to host the 2020 Republican National Convention."

After the president's tweets, a Republican National Committee official confirmed that the nominating part of the event "will be held in another city."

"Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte," the official said in a statement.

Earlier Tuesday, Cooper said he would not provide the president and his party with a "guarantee" that the party could hold a full-scale convention in Charlotte this summer, citing public health concerns.

"The people of North Carolina do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity," Cooper wrote in a letter to Republican National Committee officials.

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Last week, Trump threatened to move the event from Charlotte if there was a chance that the venue could not be filled because of virus-related restrictions, tweeting that Cooper must "guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance" in the arena. The Republican National Committee said in a letter that it wanted a 19,000-person convention in August, even though public health officials have said large gatherings can be dangerous.

Trump was also reported to have told Cooper that he didn't want masks or social distancing requirements at the event.

Cooper said in a tweet about an hour after Trump's posts: "We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it's unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority."

Republican national Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel fired back that Cooper hadn't been clear about what "scaled down" means.

"Currently, you allow 10 people to gather indoors. Is that what scaled down means? Or is it 100 people? 1,000 people? Total lack of clarity from you," she wrote in a tweet.

And later Tuesday, 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."

The coronavirus has killed more than 100,000people in the U.S., but the president has rallied around the idea of hosting high-profile events in person. He invited world leaders to attend a G7 summit in the U.S. this summer, only to be rebuffed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He postponed the event shortly after, claiming that the group was outdated.

Adam Edelman contributed.