RNC announces Jacksonville, Fla. as host to celebratory part of 2020 convention, City of Charlotte responds

RNC scraps left for Charlotte

(WBTV) - President Donald Trump will officially celebrate his acceptance of the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in Jacksonville, Florida at the 2020 Republican National Convention.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel announced Thursday that Jacksonville has been selected as the host city to celebrate the re-nomination of President Trump.

The celebration of the re-nomination of the President will take place at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, August 24-27.

The City of Charlotte released a statement Friday evening in response to the news of the RNC’s relocation.

“Since being awarded the 2020 Republican National Convention, we have been working with our partners to meet our obligations and to help ensure a successful event for the Republican National Committee (RNC), as well as for the Charlotte community. Given the RNC’s formal notice to relocate most convention events to Jacksonville, FL., the City believes it is in the parties’ best interest to immediately unwind the agreements among them and hold the RNC accountable to fulfill all its outstanding obligations to the parties and make them whole,” the statement read.

The selection of Jacksonville comes after Governor Roy Cooper did not agree to a full attendance celebration in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump’s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months."

The RNC’s Executive Committee has voted unanimously to allow the official business of the national convention to continue in Charlotte.

“Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry have been very welcoming, and we look forward to bringing a safe and exciting celebration to Jacksonville and the surrounding area,” a press release read.

"Florida is honored to host this special event where we will celebrate the re-nomination of President Donald J. Trump," said Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. "Jacksonville is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history."

"Today's announcement is a huge win for the City of Jacksonville to host the celebration of President Trump’s acceptance of the nomination," said City of Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry. "The opportunity to highlight all our city has to offer and the tremendous economic impact is one I enthusiastically welcome, and we look forward to hosting an exciting event for all delegates and guests to enjoy."

On Wednesday night, CNN reported the RNC executive committee unanimously approved a plan to “significantly scale down the convention proceedings that will take place in Charlotte later this summer.”

A party spokesman reportedly told CNN that the RNC will make no changes to the party’s 2016 platform, and will only send around 336 delegates to the official business in Charlotte.

The party is contractually obligated to keep some portion of the convention in Charlotte, but the vote on Wednesday night will substantially pair down that portion to 336 delegates where there would have been over 2,500.

The Washington Post reported late Tuesday night that the Republican National Committee had “tentatively” selected Jacksonville, Florida as the site of the celebratory portion of the August 2020 convention.

The Washington Post cited “three Republican officials briefed on the plans” as the source of this information in its web article. At the time, CLT Host Committee said they could not confirm the convention’s change of location.

“The details of the arrangement are still in flux and RNC aides are scrambling to determine whether the northern Florida city has enough hotel rooms to accommodate the quadrennial event, which typically kicks off the final stretch of the presidential campaign,” the Washington Post article, written by Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey, reads.

Wednesday morning, the City of Charlotte released a statement saying, in part, they had not been “officially informed” of the RNC’s plans to move the convention.

“The City Attorney and members of his staff have been meeting regularly with the legal representatives of the Republican National Committee and other parties to the convention agreements. The City of Charlotte remains willing to work in good faith to complete its contractual obligations under the terms of the two Convention agreements," the statement read. "The City has not been officially informed of the RNC’s intent to relocate the convention. Considering the media reports of the RNC’s apparent unilateral decision to relocate a substantial portion of the convention to Jacksonville, an immediate discussion with the RNC and our partners regarding contractual obligations and remedies resulting from this apparent decision is required.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted that the city would welcome the RNC to town.

We have learned from news reports that the Republican National Committee has moved the convention from Charlotte to Jacksonville, Florida. Though there have been some conversations about business meetings being held in our city, nothing has been confirmed to us. This decision is in clear violation of the agreements made with the City of Charlotte, the County of Mecklenburg, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, and the Charlotte Host Committee," CLT HOST 2020 said in a statement. "Unfortunately, this action most directly impacts our hospitality and tourism partners, small businesses, and vendors counting on the economic impact of the promised events.”

“Due to the directive from the governor that our convention cannot go on as planned as required by our rules, the celebration of the president’s acceptance of the Republican nomination will be held in another city," RNC officials wrote in a statement Wednesday afternoon. "Should the governor allow more than 10 people in a room, we still hope to conduct the official business of the convention in Charlotte.”

Charlotte city officials were still working out a deal over what hosting the “official business” portion of the Republican National Convention will look like.

“The RNC’s Executive Committee has voted unanimously to allow the official business of the national convention to continue in Charlotte,” RNC Communications Director Michael Ahrens wrote in a statement. “Many other cities are eager to host the president’s acceptance of the nomination, and we are currently in talks with several of them to host that celebration.”

President Trump said the RNC was being “forced to seek another state” to host the 2020 event.

Trump’s response, delivered on Twitter, comes after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper responded to the Republican National Committee earlier in the day, saying it was “very unlikely” public health concerns over COVID-19 would allow for the “full convention” the president has requested for the RNC in Charlotte.

“Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised,” President Trump wrote, in part, in a series of three tweets. “Because of @NC_Governor, we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”

President Donald Trump said the RNC is seeking another state to hold the 2020 convention.
President Donald Trump said the RNC is seeking another state to hold the 2020 convention. (Source: @RealDonaldTrump | Twitter)

Gov. Cooper tweeted in response to President Trump again, saying state officials had been committed to a safe convention in Charlotte in August.

“We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe. Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority,” Cooper tweeted.

The City of Charlotte later tweeted that they had not received official notification from the RNC regarding their intent for the convention.

“We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions,” city officials said.

“State and local partners have been willing to work together with the RNC on a scaled down event with health and safety measures, but it wouldn’t be responsible to guarantee a full arena as the RNC has demanded. State officials will continue to support health and safety aspects of any activities that do remain in North Carolina,” Gov. Cooper’s press secretary said.

In ealry June, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said the committee would be “visiting the multiple cities and states who have reached out in recent days” about hosting the convention.

The Republican National Committee recently sent a letter to Cooper stating they expect a full convention, no matter the state of the coronavirus pandemic. The RNC committee’s defined a full convention as “19,000 delegates, alternate delegates, staff, volunteers, elected officials and guest inside the Spectrum Center.” The RNC said they are also expecting hotels to be full and restaurants and bars to be at capacity.

On May 26, Trump gave Cooper one week to make a decision about allowing full attendance at the convention before considering other locations for the convention.

While N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen responded to the RNC’s request with a follow-up letter detailing questions health officials wanted answered about convention plans, Cooper’s letter came just one day before the president’s deadline.

“We had appreciated your earlier acknowledgements that a successful and safe convention would need to be scaled back to protect the health of participants as well as North Carolinians,” Cooper wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, it appears that has now changed.”

Cooper previously wrote that he still wanted a safe RNC convention in Charlotte that follows health guidelines set forth in the CDC’s guidance regarding mass gatherings.

“The people of North Carolina do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August,” Cooper wrote, “so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”

Cooper said N.C. officials were still waiting on answers to the questions posed by Cohen in her letter.

“As much as we want the conditions surrounding COVID-19 to be favorable enough for you to hold the Convention you describe in late August, it is very unlikely,” Cooper said. “Neither public health officials nor I will risk the health and safety of North Carolinians by providing the guarantee you seek.”

Read Cooper’s letter in its entirety below:

When giving Cooper the one-week deadline, President Trump pointed out that the RNC has “tremendous” economic development consequences on the state.

“We have to know that when the people come down, they’re going to have the doors open - now if the governor can’t tell us very soon, unfortunately we’ll have no choice,” President Trump said.

President Trump talked about how he loves North Carolina and how it is a very important place to him.

“I’d love to have it in North Carolina. that was why I chose it, Charlotte - but we’re going to see,” President Trump said.

President Trump said he would say he needed to know if the governor can guarantee full attendance within a week before looking elsewhere for a location.

“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 locations and I will tell you a lot of locations want it,” President Trump said. “But I picked North Carolina because I do love that state and it would have been a perfect place for it and it still would be - but he’s got to say that when thousands of people come to the arena that they’ll be able to get in. Does that make sense?”

The full response to the question can be found here around the 21:44 minute mark of the video.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper responded to Monday tweets from President Donald Trump threatening to pull the Republican National Convention (RNC) from Charlotte if the state cannot guarantee full attendance at the convention.

Gov. Cooper said state officials have already been in talks with the RNC about the kind of convention they would need to hold and the kinds of options needed. The Republican National Convention was originally set for August 24 through August 27 at the Spectrum Center. It was expected to bring nearly 50,000 people to the city.

“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 regarding COVID-19 in North Carolina,” Gov. Cooper said.

Gov. Cooper mentioned conversations state health officials have been having with the Carolina Panthers, Charlotte Hornets and other large arena owners about precautions to take when considering holding large events in North Carolina in the coming months.

“Everyone wants to get back into action soon,” Gov. Cooper said. "But I think everybody knows that we have to take some steps to make sure that people are protected, because this virus is still going to be with us in August and we’re going to have to take steps to protect people.

Gov. Cooper says officials have asked the RNC to present their written proposals for plans for the convention. Cooper said officials have had discussions about the possibility of a limited convention among other options.

Cooper said NASCAR did a great job of presenting their plans and adhering to many safety guidelines, and he looks forward to having positive conversations with the RNC as well.

“We’d like to reach a resolution that everyone can be reasonable about that puts public healthy, safety, the science and the facts as the number one thing we’re trying to do here,” Gov. Cooper said.

“The RNC wants to hold a full in-person convention in Charlotte, but we need the governor to provide assurances that it can occur. We will need some answers sooner rather than later, or we will be forced to consider other options.”
Republican National Committee Spokesperson

Two other governors jumped in early, offering up their states to host the Republican National Convention. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp sent an open plea to Trump on Tuesday to consider his state as an alternate site for the quadrennial convention, which is set to gather more than 2,500 delegates and thousands more guests, press and security officials.

Kemp’s offer was followed by one from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who told reporters at a Miami news conference that he “would love” to have the GOP or even the Democratic convention, as either would bring millions of dollars to the state.

North and South Carolina leaders didn’t want the Carolinas lose the thousands of jobs or the $200 million that will come to the state just because Florida and Georgia and other states are offering to host or because Cooper couldn’t make it work with the RNC.

“This wallet is neither democrat nor Republican. This represents green. It’s not red or blue is green. And that’s why we want this money to be spent in Charlotte, North Carolina,” said Representative Ralph Norman.

Norman says Carolinians would be losing out on a missed opportunity for an economic boost, if the Governor didn’t urge for the RNC to remain in Charlotte.

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