Republican, Democrat coronavirus schism on full display as GOP explores new convention site

Republican, Democrat coronavirus schism on full display as GOP explores new convention site

NASHVILLE – While the Democratic Party is working to decide whether it will even have an in-person convention, Republicans are looking at changing the location of theirs to ensure a splashy event.

Tuesday's news that the Republican Party is eyeing Nashville as a possible new location to host this summer's Republican National Convention, highlights a growing schism between the two parties and how they are approaching the election in the face of a pandemic.

Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, largely have called for weeks for states to re-open after weeks of stay-at-home orders and other measures closed businesses and schools, cancelled events, and ground the economy to a halt.

On the other side, Democrats have generally urged caution, noting the lack of a vaccine and urging Congress to appropriate more money for testing. In a recent survey, 94% of Democrats said they were concerned about the coronavirus in the United States compared with 76% of Republicans.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves before he speaks at an event for the National Federation of Republican Assemblies at Rocketown in Nashville Aug. 29, 2015.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for August in Charlotte, N.C. But Republicans are in standoff with Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who wants the party to demonstrate it can safely hold the convention amid the pandemic.

The Republican Party has maintained that it's going to continue with a full-scale convention, which will probably have about 50,000 people in attendance. Both Democrats and Republicans will host their conventions in August, while much of the country is still transitioning back to public life from the coronavirus pandemic.

“The President and (Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel) have been clear on our intent to hold our convention in Charlotte," RNC spokesperson Mike Reed told Politico. "We are awaiting confirmation from the governor that the originally contracted convention can still be held at the Spectrum Center."

McDaniel said last month during an interview with The 19th News that under the party's bylaws, "we have no option except to do an in-person convention."

"We're planning full steam ahead because it's much harder to put a whole convention together with 50,000 people, then to scale it back," McDaniel said.

Politico first reported the RNC's interest in Nashville.

“Nashville is the best place in America to have a convention,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said Tuesday, noting his office has “just begun those conversations.”Republican officials are expected to tour the city Thursday.

Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese slammed the Republicans' move.

"While the Trump Administration is ignoring the public health landscape, presuming things will miraculously improve in under three months, and moving forward with plans for a massive in-person convention – Democrats are acknowledging the severity of this pandemic that's already killed over 100,000 Americans and taking proactive steps in coordination with our elected officials to prevent more people from getting sick," he said in a statement.

The Democratic Party has been open to hosting a heavily “virtual” gathering in August. It has been exploring a range of scenarios that could include a partly, mostly or fully virtual gathering. Some Democrats expect there could be a hybrid event where some speakers will appear live in Milwaukee, along with some but not all delegates in attendance.

Some Republicans praised the possibility of the convention coming to Music City – including U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

In addition to Nashville, Republicans are looking at Las Vegas; Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.; and a location in Georgia, according to Politico.


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