- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2020

President Trump on Tuesday gave North Carolina’s Democratic governor one week to decide if the state will allow the Republican National Convention to go forward with a capacity crowd in late August, as several GOP governors lobbied for the massive four-day event to move to their states.

“We need a fast decision from the governor,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “He’s been acting very, very slowly and very suspiciously.”

Gov. Roy Cooper said Tuesday that public health and safety, not politics, will be the “guiding star” as he decides whether to allow the GOP convention to be held in Charlotte starting on Aug. 24.

“It’s OK for political conventions to be political, but pandemic response cannot be,” Mr. Cooper said. “We’d like to reach a resolution that everybody can be reasonable about.”

He said state health officials have asked convention organizers to submit written plans about how they would ensure the health of delegates and other attendees during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re talking about something that’s going to happen three months from now, and we don’t know what our situation is going to be,” Mr. Cooper said. “These are the same kind of conversations we’re having with the Carolina Panthers, the Charlotte Hornets. … Everyone knows we have to take steps to make sure people are protected because this virus is still going to be with us in August.”

The president said time is running out for a decision on where to hold the event, expected to draw more than 50,000 people.

“It’s a massive expenditure,” the president said. “We have to know. If he feels that he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us, and then we’ll have to pick another location. I will tell you, a lot of locations want it.”

Govs. Brian Kemp of Georgia and Ron DeSantis of Florida said Tuesday they would welcome the opportunity to have the convention relocate to their states.

“In terms of the RNC, Florida would love to have the RNC,” Mr. DeSantis said in response to a reporter’s question at a press conference. “Heck, I’m a Republican, it would be good for us to have the DNC.”

Mr. DeSantis rolled out the welcome mat.

“The door is open, we want to have the conversation, whether RNC, DNC, whatever, because I think it will be good for the people of Florida,” he said.

Mr. Kemp delivered a similar message on Twitter.

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

Mr. Kemp and Mr. DeSantis have been at the forefront of the Republican push to reopen states during the coronavirus pandemic, scoring them points with Republican activists and scorn from Democrats.

Democratic leaders pushed back their nominating convention in Milwaukee from July to late August. They also raised the prospect of the event being scaled down to reduce the risk of exposing delegates and activists to the virus.

The president said he chose North Carolina, a battleground state, because “I do love that state and it would have been a perfect place for it, and it still will be.”

“But he’s got to say that … when thousands of people come to the arena, that they’ll be able to get in,” the president said of Mr. Cooper.

Mr. Cooper has begun reopening North Carolina businesses and recreational activities that were shut down March 27 to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still prohibited and public entertainment venues remain closed.

North Carolina’s coronavirus caseload has continued to increase, with the highest one-day spike of more than 1,000 cases reported Friday by the state health department, though the number of reported cases fell to 176 on Tuesday.

• S.A. Miller contributed to this report.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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