Trump calls off Florida segment of GOP National Convention

Trump calls off Florida segment of GOP National Convention

Trump calls off Florida segment of GOP National Convention

WASHINGTON — 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.”

___

Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Fla.

Zeke Miller And Brendan Farrington, The Associated Press

Donald Trump

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Trump calls off Florida segment of GOP National Convention

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Alberta reported an additional 399 cases of COVID-19 Thursday, on 9,217 tests, for a test positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. (Image courtesy CDC)
Red Deer down to 562 active COVID-19 cases

8 new COVID-19 deaths, 399 additional COVID-19 cases

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Students and staff at Gateway Christian School wore pink Wednesday in support of Pink Shirt Day, a worldwide anti-bullying initiative that was started in 2007. (Photo courtesy of Red Deer Public Schools)
Students, central Alberta community celebrate Pink Shirt Day

Mayor of Sylvan Lake Sean McIntyre supports anti-bullying cause

Most Read