Trump threatens to move GOP convention out of North Carolina over COVID-19 restrictions

He fired off a series of tweets on Memorial Day aimed at the governor.

May 25, 2020, 4:18 PM

President Donald Trump's first message on Memorial Day was a stark warning to Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina that if the coronavirus restrictions in the state are not lifted, the RNC might move its 2020 convention to another state.

The convention is currently scheduled for Aug. 24 at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, but North Carolina -- which entered the second phase of its reopening schedule last week -- still prohibits mass gatherings at large venues.

PHOTO: In this March 18, 2020 file photo, a pedestrian walks through campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
In this March 18, 2020 file photo, a pedestrian walks through campus at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Gerry Broome/AP, FILE

"I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August," Trump tweeted. "Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena. In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space."

He added, "Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August. They 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. This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!"

The president for weeks has called on governors, sometimes singling them out, to reopen their states and get back to some degree of normalcy even as coronavirus cases continue to rise and officials warn that the virus is not contained. The death toll in the United States continues to inch toward 100,000 and North Carolina on Saturday reported 1,107 new COVID-19 cases -- its highest number yet.

Vice President Mike Pence in an interview on Fox News' "Fox & Friends" Monday morning backed up the president, saying that if the state doesn't move quicker to reopen its economy, the GOP might move its national convention in August to a state "that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that, that we can gather there."

The governors' Press Secretary Dory MacMillan responded to Trump's tweets in a statement saying, “State health officials are working with the RNC and will review its plans as they make decisions about how to hold the convention in Charlotte. North Carolina is relying on data and science to protect our state's public health and safety.”

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Later on Monday, the president tweeted that he would like to "stay in N.C., whose gov. doesn’t even know if he can let people in?"

The president’s comments come as Democrats have publicly talked about the possibility of holding an all virtual convention if necessary.

ABC News' Will Steakin contributed to this report

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