“The people who will visit the Charlotte region during the Convention, as well as the businesses and workers who will benefit are looking to you to set the rules and requirements for the RNC to hold a safe, secure event,” the letter reads. “We still do not have solid guidelines from the State and cannot in good faith, ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the Governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention.”
The letter marks an important step for convention plans as the event’s particulars have been in flux. President Donald Trump has long promoted his desire for a fully fledged convention as a means of generating excitement among voters for another four years of his presidency, yet North Carolina remains in the second phase of its reopening strategy, which does not allow for gatherings larger than 10 people.
Early this week Trump issued a series of tweets condemning Cooper for being in “Shutdown mood,” before giving the governor one week to decide how to move forward.
“We have a governor who doesn’t want to open up the state,” Trump said on Tuesday, implying that Cooper was politicizing the event. “He’s been acting very, very slowly and suspiciously.”
The letter also once again places responsibility on Democrats to define how the event — which is expected to draw more than 50,000 people — will safely take place. On Monday, in response to the president’s tweets, North Carolina Health and Human Services secretary Mandy Cohen issued a letter to Marcia Kelly, the convention’s president and CEO, requesting a contingency plan from Republicans for hosting their convention during the pandemic.
North Carolina GOP leaders maintain that plans to host the RNC are in progress. They are committed to seeing the convention take place in the perennial swing state, despite some bids from other governors.
Also CC’d on the letter were Charlotte city officials including all eight members of its heavily Democratic city council and its mayor, Vi Lyles. Lyles has maintained she will yield the advice of state health officials and the Cooper administration but that the city is contractually obligated to host the convention.
Alex Isenstadt contributed reporting.