President Donald Trump will accept the Republican presidential nomination in Jacksonville, FL, after it became clear that they may have to scale back the event in the convention host city of Charlotte because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the other events that normally take place at party conventions will still take place in Charlotte, but much of the media spotlight will now be on the Florida city.
GOP chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tweeted, “We are thrilled to hold @realDonaldTrump‘s acceptance of the Republican nomination in the great city of Jacksonville! Not only is Florida his home state, it is crucial to victory. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State!”
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The convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27.
Trump’s speech will be on the final day of the convention from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in downtown Jacksonville. It has a capacity of 15,000.
Charlotte was selected as the host city for the GOP convention in 2018, giving it a two-year time frame for planning and staging.
But Trump and party leaders threatened to move the convention in recent weeks as North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper made clear that they would be unable to hold a traditional party event, with so many people crowded into the arena. The RNC had sought assurances that they could still hold a regular gathering.
“The people of North Carolina do not know what the status of COVID-19 will be in August, so planning for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, social distancing and face coverings is a necessity,” Cooper wrote in a letter to the Republican National Committee earlier this month.
As news began to filter out about the GOP’s plans this week, so too did the date — Aug. 27. That is the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday, when a white mob attacked black demonstrators who were staging peaceful sit-ins to desegregate the city’s lunch counters.
The Democratic National Committee pushed back its convention to Aug. 17-20, after an original July date, to give it more time to prepare for a potentially scaled back event. There has been some suggestion that part of the convention could take place virtually, while other events will be with smaller crowds.
The RNC last held a convention in Florida in 2012, when Mitt Romney was nominated in Tampa. Recent polling shows Trump is in for a competitive race in the state with Joe Biden.
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