Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump, speaks during the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Thursday, July 21, 2016.
President Donald Trump called North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Friday in an attempt to appeal the governor’s position on hosting a socially-distanced Republican National Convention, The Washington Post reported.
Trump insisted on hosting the event at full capacity, whereas Cooper proposed a scaled-down convention as a precaution amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Since the day I came down the escalator, I’ve never had an empty seat and I find the biggest stadiums,” Trump told Cooper, recalling when his presidential candidacy for the Republican party was announced at the Trump Tower in New York in June 2015.
“I don’t want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty,” the president continued on the call, according to two people familiar with it.
The convention was planned to take place in late August at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event page, which has yet to be updated, states that nearly 50,000 attendees are expected over the course of the convention.
However, Cooper has taken a cautious approach to reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic; the state is currently in Phase 2 of reopening, which allows indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.
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President Donald Trump called North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper Friday to appeal his decision to host a socially distanced Republican National Convention amid concerns relating to the coronavirus, The Washington Post reported.
Trump told Cooper that he wouldn’t comply with a scaled-down version of the convention because he said he doesn’t “want to be sitting in a place that’s 50 percent empty” when his presidential renomination is announced, according to two people familiar with the call.
“Since the day I came down the escalator, I’ve never had an empty seat and I find the biggest stadiums,” he told Cooper, recalling when his presidential candidacy for the Republican party was announced at the Trump Tower in New York in June 2015.
Video: 2 truths and a lie about the coronavirus and social distancing
Crowd size, especially at his campaign rallies, has been a point of contention between Trump and the media after the president repeatedly insisted that his events fill stadiums, though some news outlets reported that Trump inflates the attendance figures.
The North Carolina governor proposed reducing the number of attendees to allow for proper social distancing and lower the risk of spreading the virus.
“We can’t do social distancing,” the president simply said in the call, citing The Post report.
The governor reportedly asked Trump if he was worried about the risk of infection among his followers with a crowd of that size, to which Trump responded “No, I’m not because we’ve learned a lot about it,” referring to the coronavirus.
Trump added that older people are more susceptible to the virus, and that the infection rate “is so small,” according to the two people. He said that he will offer coronavirus tests to attendees and those who test negative could wear a stamp of some kind to denote their diagnosis.
“I believe other states will do it,” Trump said on the call. “Otherwise, we’ll cancel the whole damn thing.”
Representatives from the White House and from Gov. Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the call.
Cooper has taken a cautious approach to reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic; the state is currently in Phase 2 of reopening, which allows indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.
The Spectrum Center, where the convention was originally planned to take place on August 24-27, has a capacity of 20,000 people, and the event page, which has yet to be updated, states that nearly 50,000 attendees are expected over the course of the convention.
Trump previously mocked Cooper for his “shutdown mood” in a tweet last week and threatened to pull the event from the state if Cooper didn’t agree to ease the coronavirus precautions. Cooper again refused to comply, and Trump tweeted Wednesday that the RNC convention will no longer take place in North Carolina.
“Governor Cooper is still in Shelter-In-Place Mode, and not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night. “Would have showcased beautiful North Carolina to the World, and brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, and jobs, for the State.”
Cooper responded to Trump’s tweet, writing how it was “unfortunate” that the coronavirus safety precautions he suggested could not be met.
“We have been committed to a safe RNC convention in North Carolina and it’s unfortunate they never agreed to scale down and make changes to keep people safe,” Cooper tweeted Wednesday. “Protecting public health and safety during this pandemic is a priority.”
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