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Why Charlotte (and Only Charlotte) Wants the 2020 RNC

A willingness to host such a big but unwanted event speaks to the ambition and insecurity that has long characterized North Carolina’s largest city.
Charlotte City council members vote 6-5 to continue a bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention at a meeting in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, July 16, 2018.
Charlotte City council members vote 6-5 to continue a bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention at a meeting in Charlotte, N.C., Monday, July 16, 2018.Chuck Burton/AP

In 1791, after spending one night in Charlotte during his tour of the South, President George Washington dismissed the town, describing it in his diary as “a trifling place.” This early civic humiliation still gets mentioned in Charlotte, perhaps because it speaks to the ambition and insecurity that has long characterized North Carolina’s largest city.

It might also help explain the political drama that unfolded recently when this Democratic majority-minority city, finding itself on the verge of winning its bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, had serious second thoughts about taking it.