GOP Governors Offer States as Alternative Sites for GOP Convention

May 26, 2020 by Dan McCue
Governor Brian Kemp makes a statement and answers questions from the media following a tour of Fieldale Farms while visiting Gainesville, Friday, May 15, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has offered his state and its “world-class facilities” to serve as host of the Republican National Convention in August, a day after President Donald Trump threatened to move the event from North Carolina unless he is assured it won’t be hamstrung by coronavirus concerns.

“With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” Kemp tweeted Tuesday. “We hope you will consider the Peach State, ⁦‪@realDonaldTrump⁩!”

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.

“The door is open, we want to have the conversation, whether RNC, DNC, whatever, because I think it will be good for the people of Florida,” DeSantis said.

The Republican National Committee has been planning for more than a year to hold its quadrennial convention in Charlotte, but over Memorial Day weekend, Trump complained in a series of tweets that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was “unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the arena.”

“I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte …” the president continued. “Unfortunately, Democrat Governor @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood.”

He went on to say the GOP “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied. If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”

On Monday, Trump returned to the subject, shooting down published reports that he was pushing to move the convention to his resort in Miami.

“I have zero interest in moving the Republican National Convention to Doral in Miami, as falsely reported by the Fake News @nytimes in order to stir up trouble,” the president said. “Ballroom is not nearly big enough & would like to stay in N.C., whose Gov. doesn’t even know if he can let people in?”

In an appearance on Fox News Tuesday morning, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel said Trump was right to ask for assurances from North Carolina about the convention.

“We want to have it in North Carolina, the president wants to have it in North Carolina. It’s just the governor. He has to work with us,” McDaniel said. “Every state we talk to says we want to nominate the president here, but this governor is up for reelection and hasn’t given us the reassurances we need. We need to be able to move forward in a concrete way. We are going to have those discussions.”

Georgia became a flashpoint of controversy last month when it was one of the first states in the nation to allow businesses including tattoo parlors and bowling alleys to reopen in late April.

Trump criticized Kemp’s decision at the time, saying “It’s just too soon,” but later said he was only expressing concern about certain places, like tattoo parlors, being reopened, adding: “I think it’s wonderful.”

Since Georgia did reopen parts of its economy, cases of the virus have largely flattened in the state, albeit with a slight recent uptick.

Data from the Georgia Department of Health shows that the seven-day moving average of coronavirus cases steadily declined from late April until mid-May, a reflection of the earlier stay-at-home order.

The moving average of cases then flattened at just over 500 new cases per day, and the totals have risen slightly since May 12, the Health Department said.

The Democratic convention is scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, and party officials have said they are evaluating contingency options, including a potential virtual convention, as a result of the virus.

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