US President Donald Trump says Republicans have been “forced” to find another state to host their conference after North Carolina refused to budge on possible coronavirus restrictions.
The president tweeted North Carolina’s governor would not guarantee Republicans could use the venue “as originally anticipated and promised”.
Roy Cooper tweeted that Republicans had resisted “changes to keep people safe”.
Several other states have volunteered to host the event instead.
Mr Trump tweeted that Mr Cooper, a Democrat, was “still in Shelter-In-Place Mode”.
“We are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention,” the president added.
The party conference, which was scheduled for Charlotte’s NBA arena in August, will formally nominate Mr Trump to seek a second term in the 3 November election.
The Republican president had set a deadline of this week for North Carolina to confirm that social-distancing restrictions would not be imposed on the convention.
But Mr Cooper wrote in a letter on Tuesday to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel that he could offer no such promise.
He said “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”
By Tuesday, North Carolina had reported 29,900 total coronavirus cases and 900 deaths.
Ms McDaniel tweeted that the party would “begin visiting the multiple cities and states who have reached out to us” to scout alternative venues.
Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, which have Republican governors, have all expressed interest in hosting the convention if North Carolina fell through.
North Carolina Republicans called Mr Cooper – who is up for re-election this year – a “hypocrite” and accused him of applying a different standard to those gathering to protest last week’s killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“We deserve to know why Cooper gives free reign [sic] to crowds gathered to riot, but refuses to let citizens peacefully and safely renominate the president,” they said, reports Politico.
Democrats have delayed their convention, which was originally scheduled for August in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Former US Vice-President Joe Biden is the party’s presumptive presidential nominee to challenge Mr Trump.
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