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North Carolina governor says large-scale Republican convention 'very unlikely'

02 Jun 2020 Reuters

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper as House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) looks on during a briefing on Hurricane Dorian recovery efforts aboard Air Force One on the ground at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, North Carolina, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Carolina’s Democratic governor on Tuesday refused Republican demands for a full-fledged presidential convention in the state this summer, telling organizers that planning for a scaled-down event was “a necessity” due to the coronavirus.

Governor Roy Cooper sent his letter to Republican Party leaders a day before the deadline President Donald Trump set for the state to guarantee that convention attendance in Charlotte in August would not be limited by social distancing restrictions.

Cooper, who spoke with Trump and party officials last Friday, said he could make no such promise.

Without knowing how the COVID-19 outbreak will continue to unfold, he said, “planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”

Republican officials so far have submitted proposals for a “full convention” rather than one with fewer participants and social distancing as requested by the state, Cooper said.

“As much as we want the conditions surrounding COVID-19 to be favorable enough for you to hold the convention you describe in late August, it is very unlikely,” Cooper said.

Republicans in Georgia, Texas and Florida have offered to host the party’s four-day nominating convention, scheduled to open on Aug. 24, if Trump makes good on his threat to move the event from North Carolina over the state’s restrictions.

Republican officials are planning to visit Nashville, Tennessee, this week, Politico reported, citing a person familiar with discussions.

Democrats have delayed their convention in Milwaukee and left the door open to a revised format.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Berkrot

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