Editorial: Don't be fooled. If GOP abandons Charlotte, it will be on President Trump

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 -- Whether or not Republicans abandon Charlotte and the immense amount of hard work and expense that has already gone into the planning and staging of the Republican National Convention set to start Aug. 24 isn't up to Gov. Roy Cooper. It is up to the president and GOP convention officials. Don't be conned. This is a mess of Donald Trump's making and it will be his to clean up.

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CBC Editorial: Wednesday, May 27, 2020; Editorial #8545
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company.

It was one of President Donald Trump’s sunrise eruptions on Twitter that got North Carolina all a flutter.

“Democratic Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mode & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” Trump posted. “In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the the space. … They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor … If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican Convention site.  This is not something I want to do.”
What President Trump does, or does not, want to do after his one-week deadline arrives is anyone’s guess.
But, whether or not Republicans abandon Charlotte, renege on a long-standing contract and the immense amount of hard work and expense that has already gone into the planning and staging of the national convention set to start Aug. 24 isn’t up to Gov. Roy Cooper. It is, as Dr. Mandy Cohen, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary aptly put it in her recent letter to GOP convention officials, up to them.

Don’t be conned. This is a mess of Donald Trump’s making and it will be his to clean up. North Carolina’s governor won’t stand in the way of the convention. He and his administration are just doing their jobs to protect the health of North Carolinians and those who will be visiting the state.  Does the president care how many people could get sick while at the convention?

It is up to Trump’s convention team to meet Cohen’s most prudent request for “several sceneries planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation.” It was, unlike Trump’s threat, a message of cooperation and concern. “We look forward to continuing to work with you and your team to ensure a safe RNC,” Cohen said.

Cooper, Cohen and others — including officials in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County — are serious about doing all they can and what should reasonably be done to move ahead with the convention’s activities, as planned. Bu state, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte leaders also understand that they, and the GOP convention organizers, must plan for emergencies and contingencies. That’s a basic — even if COVID-19 adds a unique variable.

The economic and political cost to uprooting the convention, at this late date, would be overwhelming. There is no simple way to back out of long-standing commitments with all kinds of service providers and others. The lawyers for the Charlotte-area agencies and businesses are probably already gearing up.  Further, the reality that in just a few weeks another venue could be identified and geared up would be fanciful.

The reality is, as indicated in Dr. Cohen’s letter, state local and GOP convention organizers have been meeting and talking regularly, as recently as last Friday. They have been working together on ways to be sure the convention goes on as planned and the health and safety of convention participants and the public is assured.

Rather than taking the Memorial Day weekend to needlessly create a frenzy, the president would have been better off tweeting about the exceptional job that Dr. Cohen has done in helping lead the state through the pandemic and how that exemplifies the care and concern she and other state and local officials have demonstrated in working with GOP convention officials to assure the convention proceeds in an orderly, safe and thoughtful manner.

That might not have created a Twittter-storm, but it would have been the reassuring truth. That, from Donald Trump, really would be news.

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