Over the weekend, Karen discussed an announcement from the RNC indicating that President Trump’s official renomination for a second term would take place during a smaller, private gathering in Charlotte with no press access being offered. But before the day was over, it began to sound as if at least some members of the committee didn’t get the memo. Or at least it wasn’t as much of a unanimous decision or done deal as it had previously seemed. A second RNC official, speaking on conditions of anonymity, told the Associated Press that a final decision hadn’t been made yet and the show might still go on, including some members of the press, though in a smaller, more abbreviated format.
The vote to renominate President Donald Trump is set to be conducted in private later this month, without members of the press present, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Convention said on Saturday, citing the coronavirus.
However, a Republican National Committee official contradicted that assessment Sunday, emphasizing that no final decisions have been made and that logistics and press coverage options were still being evaluated, The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
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.
The committee is still only planning on a bit more than three hundred delegates showing up. That makes sense since many of them will be coming from states that are imposing quarantines on people returning from areas where COVID-19 cases are on the rise and/or if they attended large gatherings of people. Both would apply to the convention in Charlotte at present.
But the decision to eliminate the press seemed like a strange call to make. If you’ve got enough room to safely put 330 people with social distancing rules in place, how much harder would it be to squeeze in a few dozen reporters? Also, if you’re not going to use the convention as an opportunity to gin up some earned media opportunities, why bother holding a physical conference at all? The rest of the business that the committee and the delegates need to attend to could all be handled without heading to North Carolina.
Trump would clearly be unhappy about not being able to give his acceptance speech to a capacity crowd that’s packed to the rafters with supporters, but the novel coronavirus is probably going to make that impossible anyway. He could still record the speech from the Oval Office and have it delivered to the press. The rules committee could hold their meetings online through video teleconferencing. The same goes for the official vote by the delegates, many of whom are already going to have to vote that way even if the meeting is held in Charlotte.
I tend to agree with some of the sentiments Karen shared in the previous article linked above. The conventions every four years have traditionally been a great excuse to party, swamp the media’s coverage of the campaign and hold private meetings and negotiations with others from the party. But they don’t really accomplish that much of substance that adds up to more than formalities, aside from setting the final wording of the platform and amending the rules as required. I’ve been to a few of these shindigs myself, and they present far more of a festive atmosphere than any sort of solemn chamber of diligent labor.
What we’ll hopefully find out today (or at least early this week) is how the RNC let that initial announcement go out without having everyone on board with the plan. Now they’ve simply made themselves look disorganized and not fully unified heading into the final weeks of the campaign.