With the Democratic National Convention already being moved from July to dates in August, and likely to take place in a mostly “virtual” form, Republicans were still planning to go ahead with an in-person national convention to formally re-nominate Donald Trump for president. The 2020 Republican National Convention (RNC) was slated to take place in Charlotte, N.C., but due to a continued “shelter in place” order resulting from Coronavirus, Gov. Roy Cooper scoffed at the notion of holding a large in-person gathering this summer without severe limitations in crowd size and attendance.
As a result, the Republican Party, and the Trump campaign specifically, are looking at venues around the country and the potential of hosting a “multi-city” convention with rallies and events in different cities. Due to contractual obligations, at least some formal events must still take place at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, but Trump will likely give a convention speech elsewhere with a packed venue full of supporters. The potential for Trump, speaking in Charlotte, to a half-empty arena, is not the appearance that the Trump campaign wants to broadcast.
Several states, and cities, mostly all in the south, are now running mini-campaigns to host convention events or host Trump’s acceptance speech, as NBC News reports:
As Republicans scramble to reboot the GOP convention, one option gaining traction is a multistate affair with major speeches and rallies in a variety of cities, according to three people familiar with the discussions.
Part of the appeal of the roadshow approach is that it could allow President Donald Trump to claim having commanded the highest-attended convention audience in history, they said, and to accept his renomination with all the fanfare he envisioned.
“I think it’s going to be a glorified rally,” a person familiar with the conversations said of the president’s keynote address.
GOP officials are already on the ground in places like Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas; Phoenix; and New Orleans. They may also schedule scouting visits to Atlanta; Savannah, Georgia; and Las Vegas in the weeks to come.
President Trump has proven over the course of several years, and during his campaign in 2015 and 2016, that putting on a big show is part of his campaign act. Rallies with 10,000 or 20,000 people across the country added to his hype and momentum leading up to a defeat of Hillary Clinton.
In that regard, the decision from North Carolina might end up being something of a blessing for Trump in that it will force Republicans to re-think what a convention could and should be, and potentially create a bigger event than originally planned.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a staunch Trump supporter, is lobbying hard to bring some convention events to the Sunshine State:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday made his pitch to host the 2020 Republican National Convention in the Sunshine State — arguing it would be a “mistake” to altogether preclude the physical staging of the party’s quadrennial presidential nominating event over concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The shape of the epidemic is just simply going to be different. Hopefully, it’s a lot better, but I think we’ll be able to make those decisions about what precautions need to be taken as you get closer,” DeSantis, a Republican, said in an interview on “Fox & Friends.”
“But to just rule out a convention at this stage, I think, is a mistake,” he continued, responding to a question about hosting the August event in Florida. “So we’ve said we want to get to ‘yes’ on it, and I think you’ll be able to do it.”
As with almost everything related to Covid-19 lockdowns and guidelines, it’s a game of waiting and a game of watching individual states decide how closely they’re going to follow each phase of the re-opening plan.
The kicker for all of this is that these national political conventions, for both parties, are the culmination of years of planning and organization. A week of speakers and activities, coupled with the logistics of media and travel, all of which is usually tightly orchestrated and produced largely for a television audience, is not something that comes together with the snap of a finger.
For the Trump campaign, however, an apparatus that became ubiquitous with large “pop-up” rallies in cities day after day during the 2016 campaign, there is a potential blueprint to make it happen.
We will still see some events from Charlotte, perhaps even a few nights of speakers, depending on how these plans shake out:
One way that might work would be for rallies to feed into a venue in Charlotte by video on the first three nights of the convention, ending with delegates attending the president’s keynote speech on the final night in person in a different city.
Whether it’s Democrats with a “virtual convention” still centered in Milwaukee or Republicans with a multi-city event taking place in Charlotte and elsewhere, the national conventions this summer will look unlike anything else in recent political history.