Finley: Trump expected to make unscheduled visit to convention Monday

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Charlotte, North Carolina — President Trump is expected to make an unscheduled visit Monday to the Republican National Convention.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Air Force One will land at the Charlotte Airport just before noon Monday. The brief, one-day RNC session at the Charlotte Convention Center is set to end around 1 p.m. 

Trump has a scheduled appearance in Mills River, North Carolina, roughly two hours northwest of Charlotte, where he will speak to agricultural workers.

The RNC has not announced that he will address delegates. 

"If there is anything it will be before that (Mills River event)," Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel said. "But It has not been confirmed."

President Donald Trump speaks to the 2020 Council for National Policy Meeting, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Asked when it will be confirmed, McDaniel said, "Probably never."

"It he does it will be off the cuff, it won't be a confirmed stop."

Trump is scheduled to speak virtually each night of the convention, which runs through Thursday.

The full Republican convention was slated for Charlotte, then was moved to Jacksonville because of the city's COVID-19 restrictions. When cases of the virus spiked in Florida, the decision was made to cancel the live convention and instead come to Charlotte for one day of business.

If Trump does visit the convention he will be speaking to a mostly empty building. The 100,000 sq. ft. Charlotte Convention Center has capacity for 6,000 people in its theater.

Just 360 delegates will be on hand Monday, along with a few other guests. Fewer than 500 people are credentialed to enter the facility.

Over the weekend city workers were finishing work on the barricades around the center. Police had already closed off roads throughout the Uptown district, 

Protests are expected Monday, whether or not the president is on hand.

 Friday and Saturday nights, roughly 100 protesters marched through Uptown and the South End. While largely peaceful, there were a few clashes with police, and officers did use pepper spray several times.

But the bars and restaurants in the Uptown business district were mostly open, though crowds were sparse, as they were on the city's streets. Police cars with their lights flashing were posted at most major intersections. 

Other than the barricades and that large police presence, there was very little to suggest a political convention was in town. No welcoming signage, no public parties. The city had originally anticipated 1,200 convention related events. 

Officials are not confirming a Trump visit out of concern it will draw much larger protests. 

Sunday, the city appeared to be preparing for something bigger. Formations of a couple dozen bicycle cops moved around the convention perimeter, and ATVs and other response vehicles were parked in lots throughout Uptown.

Additional barricades were going up around buildings away from the convention center.