Political Battle Brewing Over GOP Convention Location

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Political Battle Brewing Over GOP Convention Location
President Trump has said the RNC needs a guarantee the convention can happen with a normal capacity as planned.
SHOW TRANSCRIPT

The future of the long-planned Republican National Convention is now in flux after a threat from President Trump.

The president wants “full attendance” — an estimated 50,000 people — at the event to be held the week of Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

But as of today, the state is still in Phase 2 of its reopening, meaning gatherings in places like stadiums or convention centers are limited to 10 people. 

“We all want to be in Charlotte. We love North Carolina. But having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved,” Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News Monday. 

Those preparations were underway even before Republicans announced Charlotte as the host city in July 2018.

That’s because a successful convention isn’t easy to pull off.

Political strategist Brad Blakeman was in charge of the party conventions for both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He says even beyond security, organizers have a lot to think about. 

“Lighting, sound, staging, delivery services, catering, taking care of the press, bringing them in. It is a monumental task,” Blakeman told Newsy. 

There are also the political reasons the party picked North Carolina. It’s a battleground state President Trump won in 2016. Now recent polls show him with a razor thin lead over Joe Biden in the state.

“North Carolina is at the heart of swing states. You want to pick a place that is friendly, that is going to help you politically,” explained Blakeman. 

Plus, money talks. When a political convention rolls into town, so does the cash. Visitors to the RNC in Cleveland in 2016 spent between $68 million and $110 million. Moving the convention could result in a $200 million loss to the state. 

So working this out could be politically expedient for both sides, with both President Trump and Gov. Roy Cooper running for reelection.  

The president has accused Cooper of playing politics. In a press conference Tuesday, Cooper said pandemics aren’t political and he looks forward to receiving a plan from the RNC on how it’ll keep people safe.

Blakeman says he thinks both sides will come together on schedule, but the convention may look a little different this year. 

“There may be social distancing of delegations spread throughout the hall. It may have a different look on television than we are used to seeing. The parties may be scaled back. It’s going to happen there, but it’s not going to happen as usual," predicted Blakeman. 

Amber Strong, Newsy, Northern Virginia. 

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