Last Week, Maggie Haberman & Annie Karni reported that the GOP was quietly looking into scaling back the RNC in August,
…behind the scenes, Republicans are looking at possible contingency plans, including limiting the number of people who descend on Charlotte to only delegates, and making alternate delegates stay home, according to interviews with a half-dozen Republicans close to the planning.The New York Times
I will admit, this seemed very un-Trump. The President has long loved is rallies which have been but on hold during the COVID-19 outbreak. The idea that he would miss an opportunity to speak to a large crowd of support seemed unusual. Then a poll commissioned by the Republican-backed Carolina Partnership For Reform found that a majority of North Carolinians wanted the convention to happen in August,
57% of North Carolinians want the convention to go ahead as planned with only a slim majority of Democrats wanting Governor Cooper to cancel the event.CPFRNC
What seems almost unbelievable, more North Carolinians support the convention happening than the next college football season which only has 38%. It’s impossible to know if this played a role but The President yesterday morning threatened to pull the RNC from North Carolina if Cooper doesn’t provide assurances to the GOP,
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. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed…— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 25, 2020
It wasn’t just President Trump who floating the idea yesterday of moving the RNC. Vice President Mike Pence explored the idea on Fox & Friends as well,
“Having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved,” Pence said. “If need be, [we’ll move] the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there.”Fox & Friends
Many believe this is Trump just being Trump. Making a threat on Twitter in the hopes he won’t have to actually act on it. At first, I wasn’t sure this was the case. There is a legit concern North Carolina under Cooper’s leadership could keep the convention from happening at full scale. However, Philip Klein had a good point on Twitter today,
It’s an especially empty threat given that Charlotte was the only city publicly willing to take RNC in the first place. And that was before the pandemic. https://t.co/xRUc5XnXNS— Philip Klein (@philipaklein) May 25, 2020
I completely forgot about the lack of options for the GOP when they were city shopping last year. This does complicate matters greatly for Trump and the GOP. When times were good they had very few options, now after a shutdown you have to wonder how many cities would be willing to shut down just as things would be getting back to normal for a giant convention that will undoubtedly bring with it a lot of controversies. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Charlotte was happy Trump wants to move the convention.
Time is running out, so if the GOP is going to move they are going to have to decide soon. I think the odds are that the GOP stays in Charlotte with a smaller impact than originally. Then again, making firm predictions when it comes to Trump is never a wise choice.
SIDE NOTE: Considering the ongoing political component of the urban/rural divide. It would be kind of cool if the GOP chose a smaller city to hold a more scaled-down version of the convention. Obviously the city couldn’t be too small because there are certain logistical concerns that must be met, but it would be extremely outside the box both literally and figuratively. Sure, Trump might not like it because the crowd would be smaller, but think of the benefits it would bring to a smaller town that could be way more Republican than any big city. Just a thought.