The Republican National Convention will no longer hold events in Jacksonville, Florida, President Trump said Thursday, citing a corona virus “flare-up” in the city.
“I looked at my team and said the timing for this event is not right,” he said during a White House corona virus briefing on Thursday. “With what happened recently, the Florida flare-up before a major convention, now is not the time.”
Delegates will still meet in Charlotte, North Carolina as planned, Trump said, but the events in Jacksonville, including his speech about the nomination’s nomination, will no longer be held in person.
The convention was initially scheduled to take place in its entirety in Charlotte, until it was decided to divide the convention between the two cities – a move motivated by the unwillingness of North Carolina officials to ensure that President Trump could accept his nomination in a crowded arena.
Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel said in a letter to delegates last week that the convention would be watered down to stem the spread of the virus – with the first days of the convention limited to just delegates – about 2,500 people – and events held in a mix of large indoor and outdoor locations.
The decision to hold the Congress in Jacksonville had sparked the ire of local officials, including Jacksonville City Councilor Garrett L. Dennis, a Democrat, who said the Post last month that the decision was irresponsible: “It will increase the number of COVID infections and endanger the local population,” he said.
The president said the convention will now use conference calls and other online experiences, and he will still deliver a speech.
“I will still be giving a conference speech in a different form, but we will not necessarily be holding a big, busy convention, it just isn’t the right time for that,” he said. “I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere frankly in this country and even the world who would come to the state and I don’t want to do anything to upset it.”
He noted that it is his responsibility to protect the American people as the driving force behind the decision.
“There is nothing more important in our country than protecting our people – be it the Chinese virus or the radical left-wing crowd you see in Portland,” he said.
Trump further said that although it is now a hot spot, Jacksonville is “going to do very well soon” and that “a large part of the country has no problem whatsoever, most of the country actually”.
President Trump’s announcement comes the same day the US officially surpassed 4 million recorded cases of coronavirus, most of any country worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.