Like every other newsroom in the state, the staff at Triad City Beat eagerly anticipated this year’s Republican National Convention in Charlotte, scheduled for Aug. 24-27 We’re awaiting confirmation of our credentials, making coverage plans and anticipating storylines: Will guns be allowed? Will the alt-right show up? Will the incels get their own booth?
More pertinent, though, is the question of whether we will host the convention at all, seeing as we are in the midst of a global pandemic and the state is not yet ready to green-light large gatherings of humans.
President Trump drew the line in the sand on Memorial Day. In a tweet, he straight-up said that he’d move the convention somewhere else unless Gov. Roy Cooper, the “Democrat Governor,” would not place any restrictions on any gatherings, particularly the arena where Trump would be speaking, where he insisted on “full occupancy.”
He’s talking about the Spectrum Center, which can fit more than 20,000 people.
And even though our staff, to a one, is prepared to mask up and enter that seething hive of hostility towards our profession, we’re totally okay if the governor calls Trump’s bluff.
Because that’s what it is.
It’s much easier to go ahead with the plans already laid in Charlotte than to plan a presidential convention on the fly, during a pandemic, in a location to be determined, no matter the occupancy of the arena.
And that brings up another matter: Who even wants this thing? Sure, governors of Florida and Georgia have already volunteered, but Atlanta and Miami are likely out. Texas is in the mix, but not Austin. And maybe Arizona, where Trump could still possibly lose.
But even the reddest of cities might not be all that enthusiastic at the prospect of welcoming 40,000 Republicans over just a few days, packing arenas, negotiating gun laws, refusing to wear masks and, one presumes, complaining about the service and leaving lousy tips.
Trump has given Cooper one week to come to heel on this. We’d hate to miss the convention, but the story might be more entertaining if Cooper stands his ground.