Numbers game: RNC official won’t say if they offered to scale down convention

Updated: Jun. 5, 2020 at 6:17 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In an interview with WBTV, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said having fewer people at RNC nomination ceremony was “on the table” but refused to say just how many.

The interview came shortly after Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari posted a video on Facebook saying he was told that McDaniel had offered to come down from 19,000 people at the Spectrum Center to 10,000.

A statement from a spokesperson for North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s office said the RNC never budged from the 19,000 number, the capacity of the Spectrum Center.

McDaniel confirmed other points that Bokhari had made.

She said that while mask requirements were an option for business meetings, they requested they be optional for the nomination ceremony.

McDaniel also said they had offered to require temperature checks each day.

On Thursday, the RNC Executive Committee announced that it would hold the nomination ceremony for President Donald Trump in a different city, but that the “official business” of the RNC would still take place in Charlotte.

A Republican source told WBTV the portion of the convention that comes to Charlotte could include a little more than 400 people.

“Does that sound right at this point?” a WBTV reporter asked McDaniel.

“I mean, we want to be there. We’ve invested a lot of money, we’ve had staff on the ground for two years,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said they were still working out details with state and city leaders overuse of the Spectrum Center and Charlotte Convention Center.

Just before the interview with McDaniel, Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari went live on Facebook saying he was told that the RNC had offered to scale down the ceremony from 19,000 to 10,000.

“People in the press go ask Ronna, did you do that?” Bokhari said.

WBTV asked McDaniel if that was true, but she would not confirm or deny it.

“Well, when we first talked to the governor, and it was me on the phone, we left a lot of options on the table, that we would scale back in the Spectrum Center for the president’s speech, that we would test every attendee every day,” McDaniel said. “Your governor has just refused to give us concrete parameters for August and his response to us was’ you should scale back’ and that’s where we’re at it’s been really unfortunate.”

“But did you make that specific scale back offer the less than 10,000?” A WBTV reporter asked McDaniel.

“We’ve made a lot of offers and we wanted a full arena. Listen, we had 12,000 guests that we had to accommodate so we weren’t going to go much below that,” McDaniel said.

However, President Donald Trump has tweeted that he wanted the Spectrum Center to be at full capacity for his nomination ceremony.

A spokesperson for Gov. Cooper wrote to WBTV that no concessions on attendance by the RNC had been made.

“The Governor and state officials have made clear that they want to work with the RNC to ensure that their convention can safely be held in Charlotte but to date, the RNC has failed to submit a plan and instead has demanded a guarantee of a full 19,000 person indoor convention with no social distancing or masks,” spokesperson Dory MacMillan wrote.

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