Gov. Bill Lee confirmed Tuesday afternoon that GOP leaders are considering Nashville as an alternative site for August’s Republican National Convention just hours before President Donald Trump announced that he will be pulling the convention from North Carolina.
Lee’s office told WTVF that officials with the Republican National Committee will be visiting Nashville Thursday to tour the city.
“Nashville is the best place in America to have a convention and we certainly would be interested in welcoming that to our city,” the governor said in a statement.
The convention was scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the state’s Democratic governor had concerns about hosting the convention amid a global pandemic.
Gov. Roy Cooper said in a letter to the top convention organizer and the national GOP chairwoman that “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.” The letter came on the eve of a deadline from the GOP for assurances that Cooper would allow a full-scale event in August.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, one of the recipients of Cooper’s letter, accused him of “dragging his feet” on giving them guidance for proceeding with convention plans. She released a statement saying that while the party would like to hold its event in Charlotte, “we have an obligation to our delegates and nominee to begin visiting the multiple cities and states” that have reached out to express interest in hosting.
Wednesday was the GOP’s deadline for assurances from Cooper. Last week, President Donald Trump demanded that Cooper guarantee him a full-scale event or he would be forced to move the event elsewhere.
The president then announced on Twitter Tuesday that Republicans “are now forced to seek another state to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”
“Had long planned to have the Republican National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, a place I love. Now, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and his representatives refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena – spend millions of dollars, have everybody arrive, and then tell them they will not be able to gain entry,” said Trump.
“Governor Cooper is still in shelter-in-place mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised,” he added.
…then tell them they will not be able to gain entry. Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised. Would have showcased beautiful North Carolina to the World, and brought in hundreds of…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2020
In addition to Nashville, Republicans have expressed an interest in touring Las Vegas, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Georgia as alternative sites, according to Politico.
Cooper maintains that Charlotte has seen an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the last several days, saying in his Tuesday letter to Republican leaders that it’s “unlikely” a full-scale event will be allowed to proceed. As of Tuesday, Mecklenburg County, home of Charlotte, had more coronavirus cases than any other county in the state with 4,519 confirmed cases and 95 deaths, according to the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Tennessee has never hosted the Republican National Convention or the Democratic National Convention, which will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this year. Democratic leadership adopted a resolution in May that allows for a scaled-down or even virtual convention.
“This isn’t about option A (a full-scale event) or B (a virtual event) but it’s about looking at all the pieces of the convention, how to scale up or down as we get closer to August,” explained Democratic National Committee Secretary Jason Rae.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Scott Golden said in a statement that “all Tennesseans would be honored to host the president and the Tennessee Republican Party stands ready to assist the convention team.”
“Tennessee overwhelmingly supports President Trump and everyone here would do their best to ensure a safe and successful convention,” he added. “Regardless of which city is ultimately selected, the Tennessee GOP and our delegates are looking forward to an in-person convention and the renomination of President Donald J. Trump.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun and The Ohio Star. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo “2016 RNC” by Walt Disney Television. CC BY-ND 2.0.