Fight Over G.O.P. Convention Escalates in North Carolina

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Republicans planning their party’s convention on Thursday gave North Carolina’s governor a deadline of June 3 to approve safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus during the event, planned for Charlotte in August. The move came as President Trump pressures Democratic leaders in the state to allow him to hold the kind of convention he wants, and as they cite public health concerns and say it is too soon to make a determination.

The Republican National Committee chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, and the president of the convention committee, Marcia Lee Kelly, laid out the deadline in a joint letter to Gov. Roy Cooper.

The president has tried to force Mr. Cooper and Vi Lyles, the mayor of Charlotte, to commit quickly to a Republican plan for a party celebration in the biggest city in a state that Mr. Trump won in 2016.

But the letter also appeared to be an effort to put the onus on Mr. Cooper and Ms. Lyles, both of whom are Democrats, if Republicans end up trying to stage their convention in another state.

“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,” Ms. McDaniel and Ms. Kelly wrote.

Their list of suggested safety measures included health questionnaires for attendees, thermal scans before boarding “sanitized” prearranged transportation, widely available hand sanitizer, and a requirement that attendees pass a health screening before entering the event.

The letter did not mention social distancing or masks. And the reference to a health screening did not specify whether it would include some form of rapid testing.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Cooper said Republicans had not submitted a safety plan that officials had asked for.

Sadie Weiner, an adviser to Mr. Cooper, said in a statement, “We are still waiting for a plan from the R.N.C., but our office will work with state health officials to review the letter and share a response tomorrow.”

The party entered a contract two years ago with officials in North Carolina to hold the convention, an enormous gathering that would bring thousands of delegates, alternates, journalists and other attendees to the state’s hotels and restaurants over a four-day period.

Mr. Trump has repeatedly insinuated that the Democratic officials in the state are playing politics around the Republican convention, which is scheduled for Aug. 24 through Aug. 27.

But both Ms. Lyles and Mr. Cooper have said that it is too early to decide whether a convention can be held, and that they will be guided by health officials about what can be done to avoid accelerating the spread of the virus.

Privately, Republican officials and North Carolina state leaders had been discussing a range of options being considered in lieu of a full convention, according to a person familiar with the talks. But over the weekend, Mr. Trump abruptly and publicly pressured North Carolina officials to give an answer “immediately” as to whether the event could be held at “full capacity.”

Mr. Trump has mused to aides about whether the event could be held in a hotel ballroom in Florida. The state’s governor, Ron DeSantis, an ally of Mr. Trump’s, has made a public pitch for moving the convention there.

Ms. McDaniel held a call with North Carolina officials on Tuesday, two people familiar with the call said, during which she mentioned that the president didn’t favor the televised optics of masks and social distancing at a convention, although one person said Ms. McDaniel did not say that was Mr. Trump’s demand. The R.N.C. chairwoman also mentioned the possibility of testing for attendees, the people familiar with the call said.



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