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Public health vs open RNC

For those who’ve long wanted Charlotte to rid itself of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Donald Trump’s tweets on Tuesday were a strong reminder why.

The president packed a lot of wrong into a handful of words. He said N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper refused to guarantee Republicans “use of the Spectrum Arena,” which was untrue. He said the governor was “still in Shelter-In-Place Mode,” which isn’t accurate. He said, finally, that he was forced to seek another home for his convention “because of @NC_Governor.”

That’s wrong.

Charlotte losing the convention — or at least the big events associated with it — is not about a Republican president vs. a “Democrat governor,” as Trump has called Cooper more than once. It isn’t about any of the ideological things the president and his supporters might like it to be about.

It’s about public health. That’s it. Roy Cooper wanted to protect the health of North Carolinians. Donald Trump was thinking about himself.

After a week of trying to get the other to say “no,” the governor and the president landed in a place that seemed inevitable all along. The president made the governor an offer he couldn’t accept — guarantee a full convention, a packed Spectrum arena with no requirements to wear masks or practice distancing. In other words, pretend that COVID-19 wasn’t too big of a deal, just as the president has so often tried to do.

To guarantee Trump his triumphant final-night convention moment three months before it happens, while COVID-19 metrics are still rising in our state and with little sense of the landscape in August, would have been a dereliction of duty for Cooper.

We wish the RNC and Trump chose the responsible wait-and-see approach Democrats are taking with their August convention in Milwaukee, but if the president is insistent on his conventiongoers partying like it’s 2019, he needs to find a city and state where leaders care as little as he does about the risks.

Of all the uncertainties surrounding August, one mattered most — the health of Charlotte and the people who were coming to North Carolina. Roy Cooper cared about that more than Donald Trump.

* Guest editorial from The Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, N.C.

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