President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he’s told the Republican National Committee to cancel convention events in Jacksonville, Florida, as cases of the novel coronavirus surge in the state, saying “it’s not the right time.”
“I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP convention,” he said at a White House news conference on the crisis, adding the convention will start in North Carolina, “as has always been planned,” weeks after cancelling most convention events there.
Back in June, Trump had demanded the Republican National Committee find another place other than Charlotte, North Carolina, for the August convention — in large part to avoid social distancing and mask requirements.
On Thursday, Trump announced he’s canceling the convention for the same reason.
“So, the delegates are going to North Carolina, and they’ll be doing the nomination,” he said Thursday.
“And we’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online — the week that we are discussing, which will be really good,” Trump continued. “I’ll still do a convention speech in a different form, but we won’t do a big, crowded convention, per se. It’s just not the right time for that.”
After months of downplaying the severity of the pandemic — pushing states to reopen and resisting modeling social distancing and mask wearing practices — Trump said the desire to “set an example” helped drive the decision while he justified his push to reopen schools.
“It’s hard for us to say we are going to have a lot of people packed in a room and then other people shouldn’t have to do it,” he said on the big move.
Moments after the announcement, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams released a joint statement thanking the president for “considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision.”
Earlier this week Williams told Politico that he had concerns about the convention being held from a law enforcement standpoint.
“It’s not my event to plan, but I can just tell you that what has been proposed, in my opinion, is not achievable right now … from a law enforcement standpoint, from a security standpoint,” he said.
You can read the rest of Libby Cathey and Elizabeth Thomas’ article at ABCnews.com