President Donald Trump called Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday and insisted on a full Republican convention this summer with no face masks or social distancing, according to a spokesperson for the governor.
“The Governor spoke to the President today. When the President insisted on a full convention arena with no face coverings and no social distancing the Governor expressed concerns and suggested a scaled back event with fewer attendees,” said Sadie Weiner, a spokeswoman for the governor, in a statement. “They agreed to continue talking about ways to have a safe convention in Charlotte.”
The call comes days after Trump threatened to pull the convention from Charlotte and railed against Cooper. Trump said the governor is “unable to guarantee” that the arena can be filled to capacity, and said Tuesday that Cooper has about “a week” to decide whether the convention could take place in Charlotte.
CNN reached out to the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign for comment. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Washington Post was first to report on the discussion.
As the novel coronavirus has halted in-person campaigning and upended all aspects of daily life, Republicans have denied that any alternatives are being considered for their August national convention in Charlotte.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has claimed the planning is “full steam ahead.” Democrats, by contrast, are moving more cautiously. They have set their convention in Milwaukee back by a month and openly acknowledge that this year’s event may need to be virtual.
On Thursday, the RNC and the organizers of its national convention sent Cooper a letter outlining their proposals to safely conduct the planned August gathering. The letter outlines eight safety protocols the convention organizers plan to implement, including access to antibacterial gel, pre-travel health surveys and health screenings at the event.
It does not mention other protocols recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, like the wearing of masks or implementation of social distancing practices.
The RNC said in the letter that it needs a definitive answer from Cooper as soon as possible, and alluded to Trump’s threats to move the convention elsewhere if the state is not sufficiently reopened for the event to take place.
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen responded in a letter to the RNC and convention organizers on Friday, and requested a response to a list of questions about what plans will be put in place to allow the convention to proceed under CDC guidelines, including how many people will be in attendance.
Cohen also asks that organizers outline how they plan to implement social distancing, face coverings, health screenings, testing of attendees and contact tracing for those who do not pass screenings.