North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said Thursday that Republican officials have not submitted the proposal his office has requested detailing how they plan to handle health risks at the planned Aug. 24 national convention, raising questions about whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE will go through with his threat to pull the convention out of the state.
Trump has said that Cooper has until Tuesday to commit to allowing for a full in-person convention or he will consider holding the convention elsewhere.
Cooper said Thursday he’s open to allowing the convention to take place in a “safe way,” but that state health officials will first have to sign off on the convention plans to ensure they are in line with North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions.
“We’ve asked the RNC to submit plans to us, we’ve yet to receive any kind of plans,” Cooper said. “We’re not on any timeline here, we want to work with them and look forward to them submitting plans to us. We’ve yet to see them.”
North Carolina is in phase two of its reopening strategy, allowing indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.
However, Republicans insist that they are moving ahead with plans for an in-person convention that would draw thousands to the Spectrum Center in Charlotte in late August.
Cooper said that on Thursday, North Carolina had experienced one of its highest days of deaths and hospitalizations since the outbreak first began. The state is six days into its phase two reopening, and the governor said that the case count is up in part due to an increase in testing capacity.
Trump is pressuring Cooper for a quick response, arguing that the GOP is sinking millions of dollars into planning for the convention. On Tuesday, the president said Cooper has a week to decide.
GOP governors in Florida and Georgia, which have been more aggressive in reopening businesses, have already offered up their states as alternatives for the convention if it is moved out of North Carolina.
“We’re talking about a very short period of time,” Trump said. “It’s a massive expenditure, and we have to know. Yeah, I would say within a week, certainly, we’d have to know. Now if he can’t do it, if he feels he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us, and then we’ll have to pick another location.”
Cooper on Thursday did not directly respond to a question about whether he would know anything by next Tuesday.
But he said the state allowed a NASCAR race to take place in Charlotte on May 24 — although spectators were not allowed.
“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way and for weeks and months the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” Cooper said.
“When NASCAR wanted to run in the race in North Carolina, we asked them for plans about how they’re going to run in the race in a safe way,” he added. “NASCAR submitted those plans to our health officials. Health officials gave feedback, they made some changes and ended up putting on a safe and entertaining NASCAR race. We hope the same thing can happen with the RNC convention.”
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