Donald Trump has pulled the plug on holding part of the 2020 Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, saying a spike in coronavirus cases in Florida means “the timing for this event is not right”.
The president said GOP delegates will gather in Charlotte, and that he will still give a speech accepting the Republican nomination. That address, he said vaguely, will be given “in a different forum.”
“The flare-up in Florida … to have a big convention there is not the right time,” he said during his revived daily coronavirus briefing. “I have to protect the American people.”
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“They said, ‘Sir, we can make this work very easily’,” Mr Trump said.
The president appeared eager to gain political points at the expense of his “political team”, saying earlier in the day they briefed him on plans for the Florida part of the GOP convention.
“I said, There’s nothing more important than keeping our people safe, whether that’s from the China virus or the … mob,” he said, using his terms for the coronavirus originating in the Asian country and for protesters that took to the streets to call for racial justice following the police killing of George Floyd.
After cancelling a big part of his convention in North Carolina then moving it to Jacksonville for a split-event, Mr Trump and the RNC now are moving what they can hold back to the Queen City.
Mr Trump had clashed with North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, as the state’s leader dealt with the virus outbreak and said the GOP could not hold a full convention in Charlotte.
“The delegates are going to North Carolina and they’ll be doing the nomination vote,” Mr Trump said, saying his campaign and the RNC will also do “tele-rallies and other things … we’re discussing”.
“I will still do a convention speech in different forum,” he added. “But we won’t do a big, crowded convention.”
The Charlotte portion will be, he said, “relatively quick”.
“It can be nothing like our last convention,” he said. “We’ll have a very nice something.”
But during his mostly prepared opening remarks, he again stressed that he wants all US schools open in the fall.
He did not explain the contradiction of protecting convention-goers but still contending children and teachers would be safe in classrooms.
Some US and global health experts, however, say children between 10 and 19 can transmit the virus to others, even if they never feel sick.
He again contended the virus goes away “quickly”, even as a list of Sun Belt states continue registering daily and seven-day record highs of confirmed cases and deaths.