Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena.”

-Trump tweet, 5-25-20

“With the Nation, the State of North Carolina and the City of Charlotte still under states of emergency it’s important to conduct the RNC convention accordingly.”

Cooper to RNC Chairwoman (6-2-20) 

In reaction to Cooper’s 5-25 statement, President Trump announced that he would be moving the Republican National Convention from North Carolina, saying that the Governor is not allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised” (6-2-20). Thus, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has just announced that Jacksonville’s VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena will now be where Trump makes his acceptance speech for the 2020 GOP Presidential nomination. However, the GOP will still hold their convention in Charlotte, with Cooper mandating the public health restrictions needed. 

Let’s put these actions in context. On 5-29, Trump called Gov. Cooper of North Carolina to demand in advance that there be no pandemic safety restrictions (masks, social distancing, etc.) at the upcoming Republican National Convention scheduled for Charlotte August 24-27. In other words, in typical royal Trumpian fashion, he demanded a packed room (50,000 people) at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center, regardless of pandemic guidelines or the status of the spread of COVID-19 in August.

This followed a nasty tweet by Trump saying that the Convention would be relocated unless safety restrictions were lifted and a letter to Gov. Cooper from the Republican National Committee. The letter indicated that attendees would be asked if they were ill and their temperature taken, but the RNC did not commit to masks and social distancing guidelines or put forth an action plan to ensure the safety of attendees, despite repeated requests from NC health officials.

North Carolina is a swing state and Cooper is up for re-election in November. As has become customary with this President, he was seeking to use his leverage to help himself electorally, regardless of the heath impact upon North Carolinians. In Trump’s devious mind, it was a “no-lose” situation. If Cooper had caved in, the President looks strong to his base. If Cooper stood his ground, as he did, Trump figured (incorrectly it turns out) that the base and some independents would been upset to lose the convention, and that would probably have translated to votes for Trump in November. As it is, Cooper still has the Convention, but on his terms with social distancing. In a win-lose game, Trump loses.

For its part, Florida should welcome the national exposure of having the speech, but is jamming 15,000 people together like sardines, regardless of the risk, in the midst of the worst pandemic in 100 years something Jacksonville residents should celebrate? I think not!

Meanwhile, for fellow Georgians, we should all remember that Governor Kemp of Georgia quickly inserted himself into the mix before any other Governors. On May 26, Kemp tweeted “Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” the first Governor to do so. And he further stated, “I feel like we could do that in a safe way” but unsurprisingly gave no details at all as to how

Apparently, Kemp was not at all concerned with 50,000 people (the original number) being packed tightly into a convention center with no social distancing and no face coverings. Moving the Convention here would have been a political positive for the GOP, and Senators Perdue and Loeffler (or Collins who is facing her in the GOP primary) who are up for election, and, in Kemp’s opinion, it’s also good for business. 

As has been true from the start, Kemp, as is true of his mentor, Trump, appears to only be interested in politics and the economy. Apparently, Kemp believes that if people have to die to help the economy, so be it. 

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.