(PoliticalLookout.com)- It looks like Jacksonville won’t be hosting the Republican National Convention after all.
Only one month before the convention was scheduled to begin, President Donald Trump announced he was cancelling the part of the event that was set to be held in Jacksonville.
Republicans had moved the event from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville so they could have a packed arena for the convention. But with coronavirus cases raging in Florida, the president said it’d be irresponsible to continue on with the plan.
On Thursday, Trump told reporters:
“I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP convention. We’re going to do some other things with tele-rallies and online the week that we’re discussing … 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.”
Charlotte will still be the host of all the “business” of the RNC. That will include having 336 of the delegates in North Carolina as part of the re-nomination of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Jacksonville was supposed to host the “celebration” portion of the convention, which would have been highlighted by the president’s acceptance speech. That was scheduled for August 27. No, though, Trump is suggesting that he’ll give that speech online.
Republicans were already working to adjust this year’s RNC to reflect the current situation with the coronavirus pandemic. Officials announced last week that they were scaling down some portions of the event. Those plans included placing limits on the delegates and others who could attend, and holding some of the events outdoors.
Earlier this week, Sheriff Mike Williams — a Republican in Jacksonville — said he couldn’t “say with confidence that this event and our community will not be at risk. At this point, we are simply past the point of no return to execute the event with safety and security that is our obligation.”
Members of Jacksonville’s City Council were also concerned about the event, particularly funding that was being allocated to it. Council member Matt Carlucci said:
“We’re trying to do in a couple weeks what most cities do in a matter of two years. It’s a hurry-up offense. We caught a tiger by the tail, and we’re circling all around and we can’t hang on. But we can’t let go.”
Some government officials in Charlotte are hoping the Jacksonville cancellation may provide an opportunity for the North Carolina city to capitalize on economic opportunities. Republican City Council member Tariq Bokhari said he was hoping the city could try to arrange something in between hosting just official business and a large-scale convention.
“You literally never get a second chance like this. There’s an opportunity because of this change that we have a blank slate again, a clean slate again. There’s an opportunity for us to balance health and safety with economic impact, and I hope we all come back to the table in good faith to do so,” he said.