Trump Calls Off Florida Segment Of GOP National Convention

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at the White House, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to the coronavirus threat, President Donald Trump on Thursday scrapped plans for a four-night Republican National Convention celebration in Florida that had been set to draw more than 10,000 people to a pandemic hot spot to mark his renomination.

Trump had already moved the convention’s public events out of North Carolina because of virus concerns. But the spiking virus shifted south, too, and the planned gathering in Jacksonville increasingly appeared to be both a health and political risk. Trump and his advisers feared that going forward with big parties and “infomercial” programming in Florida would ultimately backfire on the president.

“It’s a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Trump said, explaining his decision at a White House coronavirus briefing. “To have a big convention is not the right time.”

A small subset of GOP delegates will still formally renominate Trump on Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, at an event scheduled to last just four hours.

Trump had decided last month to shift the ceremonial portions of the GOP convention to Florida because of a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic leaders over holding an indoor gathering with throngs of supporters taking a pass on face masks.

But his plans for a grand gathering in Florida starting shrinking almost as quickly as the move was announced, as virus cases spiked in the state and other parts of the country.

Trump said he plans to deliver his nomination acceptance speech in an alternate form still to be determined — perhaps online. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said the campaign will still “provide exciting, informative, and enthusiastic programming so Republicans can celebrate the re-nomination of President Trump and Vice President Pence.”

Trump said thousands of his supporters and delegates wanted to attend the events in Florida, but “I just felt it was wrong” to gather them in a virus hot spot. Some of them would have faced quarantine requirements when they returned to their home states from the convention.

“We didn’t want to take any chances,” he added. “We have to be vigilant. We have to be careful, and we have to set an example.”

Democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual convention Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, according to party officials. Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person, but it remains to be seen whether there will be a significant in-person audience.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to messages Thursday seeking comment on Trump’s announcement.

In recent weeks, Trump aides and allies have encouraged the president to consider calling off the convention, arguing it was not worth going forward with the event if the focus would be on the pandemic. Trump acknowledged that consideration, saying, “I could see the media saying, ‘Oh, this is very unsafe.’”

After a three-month hiatus, Trump has stepped back to the forefront of the government’s handling of the virus with regular briefings aiming to stanch an erosion of support in public and private polls that has followed the surge in new virus cases.

Trump said he did not cancel the convention events at the request of local officials, but the Jacksonville City Council was set to meet Friday to discuss safety concerns around the gathering.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a former chair of the Florida Republican Party, said he appreciated Trump “putting health and public safety first.”

“I know this was a difficult decision and just demonstrates and reaffirms once again his commitment to Jacksonville, the state of Florida and the people of the United States of America,” he said. “I’m grateful for him and his leadership, and this was the right way to move forward.”

Joe Gruters, current chair of the Florida Republican Party and a state senator from Sarasota, called it a “selfless move.”

“Having our home-state candidate was going to be a really big deal for Florida, but listen, he had it right,” Gruters said. “At the end of the day, it’s about safety.”

More than 10,000 people were expected in Jacksonville — already a fraction of the number that would typically attend a nominating convention. Only 336 delegates will be allowed to participate in Charlotte under extraordinary procedures approved last month by the Republican National Committee. The balance of the more than 2,500 delegates will vote by proxy.

Cory Burkarth, a spokesman for the city of Charlotte, said Thursday, “We have an agreement in place with the Republican National Committee to host a substantially scaled down business meeting and that is what we are planning to do.”

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22 COMMENTS

    • Halevai you’re right. But come on, you and I both know that if he hadn’t done this, then the enemedia would be trying to hang every death in Florida between August and November, from any cause from asthma to Zika, on the convention. (Also, this denies Antifa and BLM and the rest of that crew a chance to riot there and have it falsely pinned on Trump’s supporters.)

      • I get you . I am just nervous that without trump rallies we are in trouble . His koach is in his rallies esp since the fire is with him and not Biden .

        The rallies also would show life is back to semi normal and we have adapted to living with this new norm vs hidding in a basement.

        And certainly not to make a convention ? Very sad

        • his kioach is in his rallies? really? in his rallies he sounds like a demented putz.
          you don’t agree? of course not, trump followers have an avoida zara that they cling to, no matter what idiocy he proclaims. baal must have had the same effect on the jews of old, why else would they worship idols who excrete

          • Again you may dsilike his rallies but you must agree that Trump followers get fired up from it or you wouldn’t post your angry comment. Whether you love or hate the guy is irrelevant. Facts are his koach is in his rallies. This is a real challange.

            We can debate the substance of the rally else where. You can’t deny that it puts him at the fornt of attention, front pages and excites some people

          • Funny. We’re not the ones who depicted our candidate-turned-president with halos around his head, or had choirs of schoolchildren singing his praises, or hailing him as the “Lightbringer,” and so forth. Nor are we the ones acting as though he has the power of life and death.

            You want to talk about Baal worshipers? Look in the mirror.

  1. Florida number ard unfortunately as disastrous as ever. Deaths continue to exceed or approach previous highs, yesterday was the 3rd highest for positive cases and hospitalizations are going up while intensive care capacity is approaching disaster level. Not finding anything for florida to brag about.

    Trump basically did what governor cooper of North Carolina said had to be done all along.

    • Deaths are a lagging indicator.

      New cases are the key . That’s down by about a third of its high reached on July 12. And the curve keeps on going down.

  2. trump the putz is now starting to do what biden and other sane people have been saying and doing for months now. it’s too late for the 140,000 deaths in america, but perhaps we can lick this thing with trump towing the line, finally, finally
    remember a fish stinks from the head – in november this fish can retire to daddy’s many palaces.

    • Most of those deaths ocurred before anyone knew better including Biden Fauci & Cuomo,

      Nobody knew better, this was all part pf hashem’s plan. No silly man nothing to do with trump.

      The fish will swim even more in Nov. Stay tuned buddy. remeber we still love Wikki leaks and Ukraine and Russia. “collusion” is the law of the land

    • You mean the deaths of which about half have been in Democrat-run states with governors who, for example, sent infected patients to nursing homes? Or the ones whose lives could have been saved by a treatment that has been around for decades, is known to have few side effects, and has just been shown by yet another respected researcher (Harvey A. Risch, MD, PhD , Professor of Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health) to be effective, but which Democrat ghouls decried and banned for no other reason than because Trump mentioned it?

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