May 27, 2020 / 4:06 AM / 2 months ago

Trump issues North Carolina an ultimatum on Republican convention

FILE PHOTO: The Republican National Committee holds a media walkthrough for the 2020 Republican National Convention that will be held from August 24-27, 2020 to choose the 2020 Republican presidential nominee in the Spectrum Center Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S., November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Jim Bourg/File Photo

(Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave North Carolina’s Democratic governor a week to agree to host the Republican National Convention or face the prospect that Trump will take his event elsewhere.

Trump set the deadline for Governor Roy Cooper after Republicans in Florida, Georgia and Texas offered to host their party’s four-day nominating convention, which is scheduled to open in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24.

“We’re not going to sacrifice the health and safety of North Carolinians,” Cooper said, citing the coronavirus pandemic. He said state officials would work with Republican organizers to ensure everyone’s safety.

At the White House, Trump told reporters he wanted assurances that convention attendance would not be limited by social distancing restrictions.

“We need a fast decision from the governor,” Trump said. “If he feels that he’s not going to do it, all he has to do is tell us and then we’ll have to pick another location, and I will tell you a lot of locations want it.”

Georgia, Texas and Florida, all led by Republican governors, have loosened stay-at-home orders at a faster clip than North Carolina.

“With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp said on Twitter on Tuesday.

Trump has been critical of Democratic governors over the pace of their economic reopening following nationwide lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Like Trump, Cooper is up for re-election on Nov. 3.

The pandemic has forced Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden to halt campaign rallies. Democrats have delayed their convention in Milwaukee and left the door open to a revised format.

Reporting by Michael Martina. Additional reporting by Jeff Mason and Tim Reid; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller

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