Tags: 2020 Elections | republicans | convention | jacksonville

GOP May Move Jacksonville Convention Outside as Virus Rages

The Republican National Committee logo is shown
(Rainier Ehrhardt/AP)

By    |   Friday, 10 July 2020 08:10 AM

The Republican Party is considering moving its convention next month to an outdoor stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, as coronavirus cases continue to spike and as the Trump campaign attempts to steer clear of bad optics.

Originally slated to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, the GOP moved the majority of its events from the four-day convention to Jacksonville after President Donald Trump balked at North Carolina's order that attendees needed to wear masks and practice social distancing.

But with Florida currently experiencing a surge in new cases, the Republican Party is growing more concerned about packing thousands of people into an indoor area for the Aug. 24-27 convention, The Washington Post reported.

Party officials have toured two sports stadiums near VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, the current venue for the event, as they examine alternative options.

Health officials nationwide have stressed the importance of wearing a mask, staying at least six feet from other people, and avoiding large crowds — particularly indoors — to help slow the spread of the virus that has sickened 3.2 million Americans and has killed around 136,000.

Despite the risks and warnings, President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month where an estimated 6,200 people gathered in an indoor arena. Many of the attendees did not heed warnings to wear masks and keep apart from other people.

The campaign and Trump himself received sharp criticism for holding the event amid the pandemic. NBC News reported Friday that the campaign is now focused on avoiding problems such as smaller-than-expected crowds and people not wearing masks at rallies.

And on Saturday, a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, will take place in an airport hanger instead of indoors to help mitigate the virus' spread and to encourage people to gather since the event will be in an open-air location.

"We can't have a repeat of Tulsa," a campaign official told NBC.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, will not attend the rally over COVID-19 fears.

"From the very beginning, the governor has said he plans to avoid large gatherings of people so long as COVID is still around," a Sununu spokesman told NBC. "He intends to greet the president of the United States at the airport — as he has for every other presidential visit — and then depart ahead of the rally."

Trump has been kept abreast of the developments regarding the Jacksonville convention and is expected to make a decision soon about how the event will be held as he looks to win reelection in November. Several Republican senators, including Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, are not going to the convention.

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The Republican Party is considering moving its convention next month to an outdoor stadium in Jacksonville, Florida, as coronavirus cases continue to spike and as the Trump campaign attempts to steer clear of bad optics.
republicans, convention, jacksonville
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2020-10-10
Friday, 10 July 2020 08:10 AM
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