CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The vote to renominate President Donald Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the news media present.
A spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention cites the coronavirus for restricting press coverage from the Aug. 24 vote in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sunday, an official with the Republican National Committee contradicted that assessment, saying no final decision has been made. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible.
If the GOP decision stands, it will mark the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.
Originally, there were several nights of celebratory speeches and events planned for Charlotte. When North Carolina coronavirus health restrictions meant the president and the Republican National Committee could not hold a convention with full attendance, the celebratory events - including the president's acceptance speech - were moved to Jacksonville, Florida. The RNC’s procedural events, including the vote by the delegates to nominate a party candidate, are still scheduled to be held in Charlotte.
Trump has since announced the cancellation of the Jacksonville events citing safety concerns after a rise in coronavirus cases in Florida.
“To have a big convention, it’s not the right time,” Trump previously said, citing the growing number of positive COVID-19 cases in Florida.
While Trump called off the public components of the convention in Florida last month, citing spiking cases of the virus across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.
“Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed press Friday, August 21 – Monday, August 24,” a convention spokeswoman said. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events."
The state of North Carolina remains in Phase 2 of its coronavirus reopening plans. Restrictions allow limited capacity at inside venues, including arenas and restaurants. Bars remain closed across the state and the governor has also issued a statewide mask mandate in public spaces.
Privately some GOP delegations have raised logistical issues with traveling to either city, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travelers returning from states experiencing surges in the virus.
The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention. Alternate delegates and guests have already been prohibited.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.