RNC chairwoman proposes convention safety protocols amid feud with NC governor

RNC chairwoman proposes convention safety protocols amid feud with NC governor
© Greg Nash

The Republican National Committee sent a letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Thursday outlining safety protocols the party is ready to adopt so it can hold a full in-person national convention in Charlotte this August.

The letter comes amid a standoff between Cooper, who has not committed to allowing a full in-person convention, and President TrumpDonald John TrumpKimberly Guilfoyle reports being asymptomatic and 'feeling really pretty good' after COVID-19 diagnosis Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Lincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad MORE, who has threatened to pull the convention out of North Carolina and take it elsewhere if there are restrictions imposed on attendance due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Cooper has asked the GOP to submit a detailed plan that he says state officials will have to sign off on before allowing the convention to take place.

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The RNC letter, which is signed by chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel and GOP Convention President and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly, asks Cooper to approve of eight safety protocols they say can serve as the starting point to continue working with “stakeholders and principals to execute a detailed plan to secure our shared goal of a safe and secure convention.”

The RNC told Cooper he has until Wednesday to inform the party if there are additional guidelines that must be met. 

“Major investment decisions need to be made in the coming days and to this point we have been operating in good faith,” McDaniel and Kelly wrote.

“The people who will visit the Charlotte region during the convention, as well as the businesses and workers who will benefit, are looking to you to set the rules and requirements for the RNC to hold a safe, secure event. We still do not have solid guidelines from the state and cannot in good faith ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the convention.”

The GOP is proposing pre-travel health surveys completed in partnership with local health providers; daily health care questionnaires delivered through a smartphone app; thermal scans of all mandatory attendees prior to boarding sanitized pre-arranged transportation; widespread access to anti-bacterial gel; and “aggressive” sanitizing protocol for public areas.

In addition, buses providing transportation to the Charlotte Convention Center will “act as a mandatory hub for a final health care screening by health care officials.”

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All attendees will have to pass clean health checks prior to entering the Spectrum Arena and media suites will be subject to the same protocols as local restaurants.

The clock is ticking on the two sides to come to an agreement. 

North Carolina is in the early stages of phase two of its reopening and at the moment is only allowing indoor gatherings of 10 people or fewer. 

On Thursday, North Carolina experienced one of its highest days of death and hospitalizations since the outbreak first began.

Republicans have insisted that they intend to follow through with the in-person convention as planned. Trump has threatened to pull the convention out of the state if Cooper does not allow for that. 

GOP governors in Florida and Georgia, which are further along in reopening their economies, have offered up their states as alternates if Republicans pull out of North Carolina.

Cooper said Thursday he’s open to allowing the convention to take place in a “safe way,” but that state health officials will first have to sign off on the convention plans to ensure they are in line with North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions.

He noted that the state allowed a NASCAR race to take place in Charlotte on May 24 — although spectators were not allowed.

“We’re ready to hold the RNC convention in North Carolina in a safe way and for weeks and months the health experts in our office have had conversations with the people organizing RNC about how to have it in a safe way,” Cooper said.

“When NASCAR wanted to run in the race in North Carolina, we asked them for plans about how they’re going to run in the race in a safe way,” he added. “NASCAR submitted those plans to our health officials. Health officials gave feedback, they made some changes and ended up putting on a safe and entertaining NASCAR race. We hope the same thing can happen with the RNC convention.”

In McDaniel’s letter, she leaned into the idea that the GOP has already sunk enormous sums of money into planning and preparing for the Charlotte convention. 

“Numerous members of our Convention team and their families moved to North Carolina, they have been planning the RNC Convention for years, we have invested millions of dollars but now we are at a crossroads,” she wrote.

And McDaniel made the case that it would benefit North Carolina and the entire region for the GOP to hold its convention in Charlotte by acting as an economic stimulus.

“Knowing that President Trump and the RNC can provide a much needed and timely stimulus to Charlotte and the entire region has only steeled our resolve to hold an in-person, energetic, five-star event here while also perpetually maintaining safety foremost in mind,” McDaniel wrote.

“To accomplish the goals we all share, which includes helping North Carolina and the region to regain its economic footing, clear guidelines from you administration are needed," she added. "We believe that moving forward requires direction and setting expectations to plan for a major event.”