CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Brian Murphy and Michael Wilner / McClatchey) - Republicans will hold their presidential nominating convention in August in Charlotte, President Donald Trump said Saturday evening, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has shut down large gatherings across the country.
“We have no contingency plan. We’re having the convention at the end of August and we think by the end of August we’ll be in good shape,” Trump said during a press conference at the White House. “It’s going to be in North Carolina, as you know, in Charlotte. And I think we’re going to have a great convention.”
The 2020 Republican National Convention, at which Trump is expected to be nominated for a second term, is scheduled for Aug. 24 to Aug. 27. The event would bring in as many 50,000 party activists and officials, elected officials, delegates and media members.
Trump’s statement comes one day after Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles expressed concern about the event happening in her city.
“I don’t know the answer to that now. I don’t know whether or not we will have the ability to do this if this pandemic continues,” Lyles said during an online chat Friday. “We’ll see.”
Mecklenburg County, home to Charlotte, has been the hardest hit county in North Carolina by the virus. It has more than 600 cases. North Carolina currently bans gatherings of more than 10 people.
The Democrats moved their convention from July to mid-August. It is scheduled for Milwaukee. The decision came after the Summer Olympics, previously scheduled to be held between the conventions in Japan, were postponed for a year.
Trump previously said there was “no way” he would cancel the convention.
“Somebody was asking today, ‘Will you cancel your convention?’ I said no way I’m going to cancel the convention. We’re going to have the convention, it’s going to be incredible,” Trump said on Fox News. “I think we’re going to be in great shape.”
Earlier in Sunday’s briefing, Trump would not commit to a timeline that would see stadiums open by August. Trump spoke with commissioners from professional sports commissioners, including the NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball, earlier in the day.
“I’m not committing to it or not committing to it. We’re going to see where we are. That would be great if we could,” Trump said.
The RNC is scheduled for the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, home of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. The NBA season is currently on an indefinite hold, as is the NHL season. Major League Baseball has delayed the start of its season. The NFL season is scheduled to begin in September.
“I want fans back in the arenas,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you a date, but I think it’s going to be sooner rather than later. Eventually, people are going to be able occupy those seats in arenas next to each other.”