"The timing for the event is not right," President Trump said Thursday. "To have a big convention is not the right time." So Republicans will not be gathering in Jacksonville next month for their national convention. Trump made the announcement during his coronavirus briefing at the White House, saying he wants to protect his supporters from the coronavirus and the protesters, the Washington Post reports. Florida reported 173 COVID-19 deaths Thursday, a record for a single day. Trump said that aides told him the convention could be held safely but that he told them the timing is "just not right with what's happened recently." Thousands of people, he said, "desperately" want to attend the event in Jacksonville. "The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line," Trump said. Around 10,000 people were expected, far fewer than would normally attend the party's convention, per the AP.
The convention originally was planned for Charlotte, and Trump said the formal selection of the party's presidential nominee will still take place there. Trump had pulled the main event from North Carolina after disagreeing with the governor about pandemic restrictions. Trump said he'll still deliver an acceptance speech in some form. Fundraising for the Florida event also has lagged, per the New York Times. Instead, more than 2,000 delegates will vote by proxy, and 336 delegates will be invited to take part in person in Charlotte. A Republican lawyer in Jacksonville was glad to hear of the cancellation, saying the party hadn't done any planning. "They were having trouble getting people to come here," he said. "No one in their right mind would come here. This thing was a nightmare for our community." (Georgia also offered to host the Republican National Convention.)