Gov. Cooper says it’s ‘unfortunate’ GOP didn’t want to make changes to keep people safe

North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Gov. Roy Cooper quickly responded indirectly to President Trump’s tweets as the Republican National Convention is set to leave North Carolina, saying it’s “unfortunate” that the GOP didn’t want to make changes to keep people safe.

Cooper took to Twitter to express what he says is an issue of “protecting public health and safety” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he is seeking a new state to host this summer’s Republican National Convention after host North Carolina refused to guarantee the event could be held in Charlotte without restrictions because of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus.

Trump announced the news via tweet, complaining the state’s governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, and other officials “refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena” and were not “allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised.”

“Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention,” he wrote.

But Cooper made clear to Trump that those conditions would likely be impossible given the status of the epidemic in his state, and formalized that Tuesday in a letter to the Republican National Committee. Cooper wrote to RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel that “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”

North Carolina faces an upward trend in its virus cases, reporting about 29,900 cumulative cases and 900 deaths as of Tuesday. Around 700 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized. Mecklenburg County accounted for 4,500 cases — more than double the next-highest county — and nearly 100 deaths.

Earlier in the day, North Carolina GOP Chairman Michael Whatley acknowledged some changes would likely be needed, but maintained Republicans want a “full-scale” convention.

“Look, we’re not going to move forward with any activities that do not follow federal, state or local requirements and regulations. So, we need to know what those requirements are going to be,” he said.

Whatley said the convention could generate $200 million for the regional economy, especially in the hospitality industry and in restaurants and bars.

Republican governors of Tennessee, Florida and Georgia have said they would be interested in hosting if North Carolina falls through. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said GOP officials are coming to scout Nashville on Thursday, calling the city “the best place in America to have a convention.

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