“Right now, we need leaders of strength who can hear everybody,” the governor said.
Mr. Trump and top Republican officials had already been discussing alternative sites to Charlotte after reaching a stalemate with officials there about safety precautions that attendees would have to take, including a requirement to wear face masks and to practice social distancing.
With virus cases growing in North Carolina, Mr. Cooper wrote a letter to Republican officials on Tuesday saying that “the people of North Carolina do not know what the status of Covid-19 will be in August, so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity.”
Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the R.N.C., earlier in the day escalated the feud with state officials, putting the state on notice that there was a strong possibility of moving the event.
“We have an obligation to our delegates and nominee to begin visiting the multiple cities and states who have reached out in recent days about hosting an historic event to show that America is open for business,” Ms. McDaniel wrote in a letter to Mr. Cooper.
The latest stalemate came after Ms. McDaniel and Marcia Lee Kelly, the president of the convention committee, had given Mr. Cooper a June 3 deadline to approve safety measures to prevent the spread of the virus during the event.
Ms. McDaniel and Ms. Kelly had at one point acknowledged that a safe convention would need to be scaled back to protect the health of its attendees. But in his letter Tuesday, Mr. Cooper indicated that the two parties involved were no longer in agreement about working toward a scaled-back event, and referred to a Friday night phone call with Ms. McDaniel and Mr. Trump, in which they wanted a guarantee of a “full arena” inside the Spectrum Center for the president’s official nomination.
Instead, Mr. Cooper made it clear that despite a two-year-old contract with the Republican Party to hold the convention, which was originally set to bring 19,000 delegates and alternates, as well as other visitors, to the biggest city in the state, he was not going to guarantee he could deliver the convention on the terms they demanded. He underscored that face coverings and social distancing requirements would be necessary for any large gathering he signed off on.