RALEIGH, N.C. (WBTV) - Governor Roy Cooper addressed speculation Tuesday that President Donald Trump may come to North Carolina after all for a portion of the Republican National Convention.
The remarks come just days after President Trump announced he was canceling the Jacksonville, Florida portion of the RNC due in part to the “flare up” of coronavirus cases in the state.
The Charlotte portion of the RNC was scheduled to go on as planned - significantly scaled down. A small subset of GOP delegates would still gather in Charlotte for just four hours on Aug. 24.
During a trip to N.C. on July 23, Trump eluded to “nomination night” in North Carolina.
“We’re actually coming to North Carolina, as you know. We’re having a very major... I guess that would be nomination night. So that’s Monday,” the President said. “That will be Monday, going to be here, And the rest we’ll do in a different form. We could’ve done it many different ways but I think we did the right thing and I’m really happy that we’re going to be having a piece of it, at least - a very important piece - in North Carolina.”
On Tuesday, multiple news outlets reported that Trump said he would accept the party’s nomination in Charlotte, prompting questions to Cooper during a COVID-19 press conference.
“He’s welcome to come, but nothing has changed about our resolved to keep health and safety first,” Gov. Cooper said when asked about the reports.
“We have not heard anything from the administration or the RNC about this,” Cooper continued, “Obviously we would have concerns about people coming in and about a large crowd, but we’ll continue to keep health and safety number one in this process.”
Later, President Trump was asked during a press conference from the White House if he was “physically going to be in Charlotte” for his acceptance speech.
“We’ll be doing a speech on Thursday - the main speech, the primary speech. Charlotte, they will be doing the nominating on Monday. That’s a different period, a different thing happening, but they’ll be doing nominations on Monday. I speak on Thursday,” Trump said.
Pushed further about where he would be at when presenting his speech, President Trump said an announcement would be coming “very soon.”
Florida was to have hosted four nights of programming and parties that Trump had hoped would be a “four-night infomercial” for his reelection before Trump announced the cancellation on July 23.
“It’s a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Trump said, explaining his decision. “To have a big convention is not the right time,” Trump added.
The City of Charlotte provided a statement saying they had not received any notice about plans to cancel the Florida portion of the convention.
“We have an agreement in place with the Republican National Committee to host a substantially scaled-down business meeting and that is what we are planning to do,” the City of Charlotte said in a statement. “We have not received any notice from the Republican National Committee of any plans to cancel any portion of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville.”
Trump says he will still do a convention speech, just in a different form.
He also says his administration will do some other things, mentioning the possibility of “telerallies” and online events during the week.
The president says he has spoken to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and other political leaders in the state and in the city of Jacksonville.
Earlier this week, the Jacksonville sheriff said he was “significantly concerned” with hosting the RNC, citing safety concerns.
A WBTV reporter then found out the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was expecting assistance from CMPD with resources. That seems to no longer be necessary with Thursday’s announcement.
The convention was originally moved from Charlotte to Jacksonville after a disagreement between President Trump, the GOP and North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper about health restrictions at the convention.
The argument was based around the concept of holding an event indoors with maskless supporters. But those plans were steadily scaled back as virus cases spiked in Florida and much of the country over the last month.
NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley provided a statement Thursday night.
“The North Carolina Republican Party fully supports President Trump’s decision to cancel the RNC Celebration events in Jacksonville out of concerns arising from the spread of COVID-19 in Florida. Health and safety are the paramount concerns for both President Trump and our Party,” Whatley said.
There are no other details about the future of events related to the convention.