President Donald Trump has run out of options and had no choice left, as the coronavirus pandemic rages nationwide, than to cancel the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention.
The president made the announcement on Thursday after saying for months that the Republican Party would have their convention, CNN reported.
The move is a striking turnaround for Trump, who moved the convention to Jacksonville after North Carolina’s governor raised public health concerns about having massive gatherings in Charlotte, as the GOP had long planned.
NEW: President Trump has canceled the Jacksonville component of the Republican National Convention as coronavirus cases spike across Florida.
"It's just not right with what's been happening," he said.https://t.co/6dFJu09cjK
— NPR (@NPR) July 23, 2020
BREAKING: Pres. Trump says he is cancelling Jacksonville, FL, portion of Republican National Convention, citing state's surge in COVID-19 cases.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 23, 2020
NEW: Trump announces he's canceling the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Fla. and says he'll be giving his speech in a different form.
"I told my team, it's time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida component of the GOP convention…it’s not the right time.”
— Allie Raffa (@AllieRaffa) July 23, 2020
Joint statement from Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams: pic.twitter.com/4E55XeOos3
— City of Jacksonville (COJ) (@CityofJax) July 23, 2020
Pared-back events in Charlotte will still be held, Trump said.
Despite urges to ignore them, Trump was closely watching as several Republican lawmakers said they weren’t going to Jacksonville or were considering not going, a person familiar said.
Trump was wary of having sparse attendance at the convention. Just a month ago, the Trump campaign was playing up expectations for a massive crowd at the President’s first rally since the pandemic began, but those crowds in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were much smaller than expected.
Campaign manager Bill Stepien and Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel met with Trump recently, telling him it was still possible to go forward with the convention but that canceling was also still an option, according to a GOP source with knowledge of the process.
They presented the option to cancel as a chance for Trump to demonstrate leadership, and he was much more open to the idea than he had been in the past, the source said.
Trump said on Thursday he informed his team that his focus was on protecting the America
“I looked at my team and I said the timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right,” the president said. “To have a big convention, it’s not the right time.”
“There’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe,” he said in a speech at the White House.
It is a sad, but necessary, change as the pandemic spikes in Florida and many Southern states and still continues to rage nationwide.
“When we chose it, it was not at all hot. It was free. And all of a sudden, it happened quickly,” he said of the spike in Florida.