Instead of Convention, Charlotte Will Get a Business Meeting

(ema-June 3, 2020, substantially revised and updated June 5, more additions June 10 and 11)  In July 2018 The RNC announced Charlotte as the site of the 2020 Republican National Convention (+).  The convention team (+) and the host committee (+) put in over a year planning the gathering, and while the pandemic complicated matters, preparations were continuing until President Trump took to Twitter on May 25, 2020. 

Ignoring the ongoing pandemic and physical distancing guidelines, Trump insisted North Carolina officials must guarantee convention goers would be able to fill the Spectrum Arena.  Several other states quickly offered to host the Convention.  Following a week of negotiations between convention organizers and officials, matters reached a breaking point.  On the evening of June 2, Trump tweeted "we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention."  The City of Charlotte responded with a statement, "We have yet to receive any official notification from the Republican National Committee regarding its intent for the location of the convention. We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions."

City officials and convention planners met with RNC representatives on June 4.  The RNC representatives "confirmed that at this point in time, they intend to locate the entirety of the business portion of the Convention in Charlotte. What those intentions mean in terms of the number of visitors coming to Charlotte, the length of time and the amount of space needed to properly host the business portion of the convention is unclear..."  NBC News reported, "Trump and the Republican National Committee are surveying at least seven states and nine cities as possible alternatives" and are considering a multi-city "rolling" convention. 

On June 10 the RNC executive committee met and set the parameters of the
Convention. Six delegates from each state and territory for a total of 336 delegates will gather in Charlotte for official business; following that there will be "an Acceptance Session of the Convention, which is the celebration event that will happen in a separate location (+)."  On June 11 the RNC announced that location as Jacksonville, FL, where, on August 27, President Trump will accept the nomination (+).

Accomplishing all these changes in a period of less than 80 days will be complicated.  In Charlotte a lot of work will have been wasted, while organizers in Jacksonville will have to start from scratch on contracts, security, accomodations, transportation and myriad other arrangements.

  • June 2-3
    June 5
 

letters [PDF]:
Republican National Committee - May 28, 2020
North Carolina - May 29, 2020
Republican National Committee - May 30, 2020
North Carolina - June 2, 2020

See also:

James Hohmann.  "The Daily 202: Trump poised to accept GOP nod in Jacksonville, Fla. on 60th Anniversary of 'Ax Handle Tuesday.'"  Washington Post, June 11, 2020.

Staff.  "RNC votes to hold 'scaled back' business portion of convention in Charlotte."  WSCOTV.  June 11, 2020.

Annie Linskey and Josh Dawsey.  "GOP expects to move its convention to Jacksonville after dispute with North Carolina over pandemic safeguards."  Washington Post, June 10, 2020.

Kristen Holmes.  "States courting Trump directly as party officials scramble to find new city for GOP convention."  CNN, June 8, 2020.

Monica Alba, Carol E. Lee and Kristen Walker.  "Republicans look at multi-city convention for Trump's nominatin."  NBC News, June 5, 2020. 

Tim Funk and Brian Murphy.  "Could full convention remain in Charlotte after all? NC lawmakers are prepared to try."  Charlotte Observer, June 4, 2020.

Jonathan Swan, Alayna Treene.  "RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt."  Axios, June 4, 2020.

Alex Isenstadt.  "Republicans to tour Nashville as potential convention site."  Politico, June 2, 2020.

Joe Bruno.  "'Don't let the door hit you': Commissioners discuss Trump tweet, RNC funding."  WSCOTV, May 27, 2020.

Jeff Zeleny and Dan Merica.  "Trump's threat to pull GOP convention came as surprise to Republicans working on the event."  CNN, May 26, 2020.

Maggie Haberman  "GOP Officials Quietly Consider Paring Back Convention."  New York Times, May 21, 2020.


Framework Agreement for the 2020 Republican National Convention [July 20, 2018]  [PDF]


This article originally appeared under the headlines:
Republican Convention Will Not Happen in Charlotte
Republican Convention Will Not Happen in Charlotte, But Wait...
Something Will Happen in Charlotte, But It's Not Clear What


May 25, 2020



Gov. Mike Pence, asked about this on "Fox and Friends," responded:

"Well, it’s an issue we’ve been talking, Pete, about because these national conventions literally take many months to organize and prepare and you know there are states around the country—we think of Texas, we think of Florida, Georgia, the last two states I visited last week—that have made tremendous progress on reopening their communities and reopening their economies, and I think the president is absolutely intent on ensuring that, as we see our nation continue to make steady progress on putting the coronavirus epidemic in the past, that come this August we’ll be able to come together in a safe and responsible venue and renominate President Donald Trump for four more years. But what you hear the president saying today is just a very reasonable request of the governor of North Carolina. We all want to be in Charlotte. We love North Carolina, but having a sense now is absolutely essential because of the immense preparations that are involved, and we look forward working with Gov. Cooper, getting a swift response, and if needs be, if needs be moving the national convention to a state that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that we can gather there."



Jonathan Tilove. "Texas GOP says it would welcome Republican National Convention if NC falters."  Austin American-Statesman, May 25, 2020.





June 2, 2020




City of Charlotte
June 2, 2020 Statement

"We have yet to receive any official notification from the Republican National Committee regarding its intent for the location of the convention. We have a contract in place with the RNC to host the convention and the City Attorney will be in contact with the attorneys for the RNC to understand their full intentions."

Democratic National Committee
June 3, 2020

ICYMI:The Charlotte Observer: Donald Trump cares about his convention, not NC’s health. Good riddance.

By The Editorial Board
June 3, 2020

Key points:

  • It’s about public health. That’s it. Roy Cooper wanted to protect the health of North Carolinians. Donald Trump was thinking about himself.
  • The president made the governor an offer he couldn’t accept — guarantee a full convention, a packed Spectrum arena with no requirements to wear masks or practice distancing. In other words, pretend that COVID-19 wasn’t too big of a deal, just as the president has so often tried to do.
  • We wish the RNC and Trump chose the responsible wait-and-see approach Democrats are taking with their August convention in Milwaukee, but if the president is insistent on his convention-goers partying like its 2019, he needs to find a city and state where leaders care as little as he does about the risks.
  • Of all the uncertainties surrounding August, one mattered most — the health of Charlotte and the people who were coming to North Carolina. Roy Cooper cared about that more than Donald Trump.

(MORE)

City of Charlotte
June 4, 2020
For Immediate Release

Please see the statement below from the City of Charlotte:
 
“This morning, the City Attorney and members of his staff met with representatives of the Republican National Committee, the Local Host Committee, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and the Charlotte Hornets to discuss the current status of preparations for the 2020 Republican National Convention.  During that meeting, RNC representatives confirmed that at this point in time, they intend to locate the entirety of the business portion of the Convention in Charlotte.  What those intentions mean in terms of the number of visitors coming to Charlotte, the length of time and the amount of space needed to properly host the business portion of the convention is unclear with the RNC representatives agreeing to provide the parties with further information as their plans continue to develop.  It was understood by the parties that some of the Convention events that were originally set to occur in Charlotte may be relocated to another community outside of North Carolina. The parties agreed to reconvene the conversation on Monday, June 8.”

City of Charlotte
June 10, 2020
For Immediate Release

Please see the statement below from the City of Charlotte:

"The City Attorney and members of his staff have been meeting regularly with the legal representatives of the Republican National Committee and other parties to the convention agreements. The City of Charlotte remains willing to work in good faith to complete its contractual obligations under the terms of the two Convention agreements. The City has not been officially informed of the RNC’s intent to relocate the convention. Considering the media reports of the RNC’s apparent unilateral decision to relocate a substantial portion of the convention to Jacksonville, an immediate discussion with the RNC and our partners regarding contractual obligations and remedies resulting from this apparent decision is required."

HughHewitt.com
June 10, 2020

RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel rips Governor Roy Cooper for his attempts to derail the RNC Convention and disputes reports the GOP is taking its convention to Jacksonville

In an interview this morning with Salem Radio host Hugh Hewitt, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel discusses her efforts to relocate the RNC Convention, disputes reports the GOP is taking its convention to Jacksonville and rips Gov. Roy Cooper for his attempts to thwart the RNC Convention.
ICYMI: Listen to the entire interview at HughHewitt.com


The Takeaways:

Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Gov. Cooper's efforts to derail the RNC Convention:

"I know that if I were the DNC, it would have been a different decision. So shame on him, because he put politics over the people of his state and revenues coming into his state. And he’s breaking a contract with us, especially when you see him out with large crowds during these protests this last weekend. Obviously, he’s not that concerned about a convention coming to town if he’s willing to be with large groups of people without a mask himself. So it’s sad. We’re moving forward."

Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on reports the GOP is taking its convention to Jacksonville:

"These reports are definitely premature. First of all, we are going to keep our convention of, the business of the convention in Charlotte. That is for sure. It’s going to be smaller and scaled down. And then we are looking for a different city for a celebration. There’s a couple more things we need to do before we can announce that, but Jacksonville is absolutely in the frontrunning position."

Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on reopening the economy:

"We’re going to make some history in this, and we want everybody around. And it’s going to be America’s open for business. We need to show the country that we are ready to go, and we need to start healing and getting back to business. And we’re going to be in a state that allows that to happen contrasted with a state where a governor is preventing business and the economy to start humming."

 

Audio:
06-10hhs-mcdaniel
Transcript:

HH: If you’ve been watching Fox News, it is headlining that the GOP is taking its convention to Jacksonville. The Washington Post headline says GOP expects to move its convention to Jacksonville after dispute with North Carolina over pandemic safeguards. But I want to hear it from the Chairwoman of the RNC, Ronna McDaniel. Chair McDaniel, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show. It is great to have you back. And tell me, are these reports true?

RM: Well, it’s so great to be with you. These reports are definitely premature. First of all, we are going to keep our convention of, the business of the convention in Charlotte. That is for sure. It’s going to be smaller and scaled down. And then we are looking for a different city for a celebration. There’s a couple more things we need to do before we can announce that, but Jacksonville is absolutely in the frontrunning position.

HH: So if this was the Kentucky Derby, we would say Jacksonville is way ahead rounding the third turn?

RM: Yes, I would say, no, I don’t know if I want to say that, because there’s so many cities that have come forward – Nashville, Savannah, Phoenix. I don’t want to say that, yet, but Jacksonville has a lot of the things that we like and in a very good position.

HH: Now Chairwoman McDaniel, the most important question, of course, is whether or not the Hugh Hewitt Show gets good placement on Radio Row and whether I get three hotel rooms. What do you say?

RM: You know, I have to say yes, because I was supposed to be ready for video on your show today, and I’m just doing audio and I was not prepared. So I’ve got to take care of you guys.

HH: Oh, my gosh. That’s all I need is central placement on Radio Row and three hotel rooms close to the perimeter. Do you know, this actually gets into the nuts and bolts of conventions. You’ve been doing them for a long time. The perimeter in Tampa Bay was a nightmare. The one in Cleveland, of course, it was in Ohio, which is the best state. The one in Cleveland was really great. How do you balance the need for security versus the need to have a fun time free of the endless lines of Tampa?

RM: You know, this is going to be a little bit of a different convention, because we have right now 75 days to move the celebration portion to a different city. So at this point, I don’t even know what the perimeter is going to look like, because we’re taking two years of planning and trying to condense it into 75 days. It’s been quite a feat if we can get this done, but we’ve got to get with Secret Service and the security details to make sure we understand what the perimeter will be. But I think it’s going to be great. I feel very good about where we’re at, and the delegate and the celebratory experience, and I feel sad for Charlotte, because it’s about $200 million in revenue that would have come to their city. We were ready to go. We love that city. And the governor is still keeping them in Phase 2 with only 10 people allowed inside of an indoor venue, and won’t even give them guidelines for a Phase 3. And I think he’s playing politics and didn’t want us there.

HH: Sure, oh, the governor’s a dope, and I think every businessman and businesswoman in Charlotte, North Carolina should be outraged, should be absolutely outraged.

RM: Yeah.

HH: I was in Cleveland, I was in Minneapolis, I was in Minnesota. I have been going to these conventions since 2000. They are a bonanza for the city that hosts them, Chairwoman McDaniel.

RM: Exactly. And with the revenue that’s been lost from COVID, we were ready to go and fill their hotels and fill their restaurants. And he made a decision politically to not help us. And I know that if I were the DNC, it would have been a different decision. So shame on him, because he put politics over the people of his state and revenues coming into his state. And he’s breaking a contract with us, especially when you see him out with large crowds during these protests this last weekend. Obviously, he’s not that concerned about a convention coming to town if he’s willing to be with large groups of people without a mask himself. So it’s sad. We’re moving forward. We’re going to do the business in Charlotte. We love Charlotte. The business community’s been great. The mayor’s been great. But we can’t have our celebration there, and we’re going to move to a new city.

HH: So I’m sure Senator Tillis is begging you to reconsider. He’s a great Senator. He loves his state. But I don’t think you can at this point. I think Ron DeSantis is going to do everything he can to get you to Florida. Have you been in conversation frequently with Governor DeSantis?

RM: Yeah, I’ve been speaking to actually several governors who have been just phenomenal in reaching out. The thing is, you know, and Hugh, you know this, there’s 5,000 delegates and alternates. And we just could not ask them in good conscience. These are the grassroots. These are the heart of the party. They save up for conventions. We can’t ask them to go to a city and be committed to five nights of hotels and say by the way, you can’t go to a restaurant, we can’t have a meeting, we can’t go to the convention center. And you’re going to basically be sheltering in place. So these other states are saying you can have your convention, and we want the party here. We want our hotels filled, and we want our restaurants filled. And Ron DeSantis has been great to deal with.

HH: And it’s going to be wonderful in Jacksonville if that turns out to be the case. A beach town is always fun provided there is no hurricane. I liked it in Tampa when there was, when we got to actually have the party and when you got through security. It’s just a balancing act. Do they have the hotel rooms that they need, Chairwoman McDaniel, because that is always the key. I ended up staying in St. Pete’s beach in Tampa, which took me an hour and a half to get downtown. I have endless grievances against Tamp Bay, but I love the city, but endless grievances about that convention. What about hotels in Jacksonville?

RM: Yeah, you know, that’s obviously the biggest concern we have, hotels in any city. One, we need to lock them up before everybody starts jumping in and trying to get hotel rooms, which we feel like they have a good allotment of hotel rooms. They’re very inexpensive, which is good. They’re going to be affordable. They’re going to be a little further out, some of them, if it ends up being there. Nashville obviously has huge hotel capacity. I did get a last minute call from Las Vegas. They obviously have hotel capacity. But we feel very good about where we are on the hotel front.

HH: Oh, that’s good. Just remember, Hewitt Show, three rooms. Now let’s talk about, let’s talk about, you’ve got a great team, by the way. Steve Guest, the whole team over there, they will get this done.

RM: Thank you.

HH: They may work around the clock, but you’ve put together a great team at the RNC.

RM: I don’t think I’ve slept for two weeks. So I said this, I was talking to Governor Lee last night in Tennessee, and I said I think it’s going on two weeks of no sleep. It was Memorial Day that this kind of all blew up. But we didn’t release our hotel rooms in Charlotte, because we had a feeling the governor was going to kind of hoodwink us and say oh, go book your rooms, and then I’ll give you guidelines. And we were like no, you need to give us guidance before we book our rooms, and thank goodness we did, because that would have been shameful to have these people fly out and not be able to have a gathering.

HH: Any doubt in your mind if it had been the Democratic convention that he would have made it happen?

RM: Absolutely no doubt in my mind. And I think that’s really disgusting, too, because we’ve spent a lot of money in that state, a lot. We’ve had staff living on the ground for two years. There’s been a lot of tears shed by our team who have worked hard with the local community. And what he has done for political reasons, and I think he’s gotten pressure from the Democrat Party, the leadership, to try and derail our convention. And guess what? It’s not going to work. We’re going to keep the business in Charlotte.

HH: The media’s covering for him, but the story is out. He should be thrown out of office, and I think he will be in November, because he has cost that state and the small businesses of that state hundreds of millions of dollars. And if you’ve never been to a convention, I can’t tell you how much money we spend. And I, because you don’t go back to your room. You stay out all night. I hope you’ve got a good headliner band, by the way. I don’t even know if you can move them around. It’s actually kind of an astonishing logistical issue, isn’t it, what you have to do in the next 75 days?

RM: Yeah, it’s a logistical issue, but we’re up to the task. And our team is phenomenal, and you know, it’s a little bit of a challenge. We’re going to make some history in this, and we want everybody around. And it’s going to be America’s open for business. We need to show the country that we are ready to go, and we need to start healing and getting back to business. And we’re going to be in a state that allows that to happen contrasted with a state where a governor is preventing business and the economy to start humming.

HH: How enthusiastic is the President about going to Florida or any other city when you talk to him, Chairwoman, because I know you must be talking to him frequently about this?

RM: I talk to the President regularly about this. Obviously, he is the nominee and has a lot of input into this process. And he’s excited. You know, the President and I, we’ve been working together for three years now, almost four years. And he’s put a lot of trust and faith in my team, and I appreciate that. He’s kind of like Ronna, I trust you. Just get it done.

HH: So Ronna, I trust you, too. There are those famous golden tickets. They’re like the Willy Wonka golden tickets. I need three of those, too, right? Don’t give them to Salem. I don’t want them going to Mike Gallagher. No, he doesn’t need those. Hugh Hewitt needs those three golden tickets. Do I have you on that?

RM: You have three, well, three golden tickets in the arena? Is that what you’re talking about?

HH: Well, they’re all access passes. You get to go everywhere with them.

RM: Oh, I don’t know about that, yet.

HH: Oh, come on now.

RM: No, no, Hugh, there will be less all access passes. That’s for, it’s going to be smaller, so we’re figuring that out.

DP: Reince would have given them to us.

HH: Yeah, Reince did that for me.

RM: Oh, that’s low.

HH: It is a low blow.

RM: That’s a low blow.

HH: But look, I’m desperate here. I’ve got hotel rooms and passes. I’m just saying…

RM: Let me tell you, I’m going to make sure you’re taken care of.

DP: Ken Mehlman would have given it to us.

HH: Yeah, Ken Mehlman gave me those three golden tickets. It’s like the Willy Wonka golden…

RM: Hey, they didn’t have to move their convention in 75 days. So I don’t even know what it’s going to look like.

HH: Got to remember, I think I’m the number one rated show in Jacksonville, 100.3 FM. I’m just saying, Chairwoman McDaniel, we’ll talk to you again in a week and find out how it’s going. Good luck. This is really an awesome challenge. You’re doing it well. Thank you. I think I got the hotel rooms and maybe I’ve got the tickets. What do you think, Duane?

DP: It’s sure possible.

HH: I think it sounded like yeah, but you did hit, that was a low blow, Reince and Mehlman. That was low.

End of interview.

June 10 2020 RNC Executive Committee Meeting

The RNC Executive Committee met on June 10, 2020 and unanimously approved RNC Rule 37(e) procedures that outline how the official business of the convention will take place in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Executive Committee approved the following:

    • In-person delegate participation in Charlotte for the Rule 37(e) proceedings will include six delegates from each state and territory for a total of 336 delegates. Each state and territory delegation will typically include the State Party Chairman, National Committeeman, National Committeewoman, the two Credentials Committee members, and the State Delegation Chairman.
    • All delegates regardless of whether they are physically present in Charlotte can vote for the President and Vice President nominations. On all other convention business, the six delegates participating in the proceedings will be voting. Delegates not present will designate one of the delegates present as a proxy to cast their vote for the nominations. Bound delegates who do not submit a proxy will have their vote counted for the candidate to whom they are bound.
    • Only the Credentials Committee will meet. The Procedures specifically say the other committees shall not convene (including the platform committee).
    • The 2016 Platform will serve as the Party Platform until 2024 and no changes to the platform are permitted.
  • There will be an Acceptance Session of the Convention, which is the celebration event that will happen in a separate location. All delegates and alternates will be permitted to attend, and each may bring a guest if permitted by law.