President Donald Trump signaled that he would be “flexible” about holding the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, if coronavirus cases continue to rise across the state.
“It really depends on the timing,” Trump said in an interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren. “Look, we’re very flexible. We can do a lot of things, but we’re very flexible.”
Earlier this month, the Republican National Committee announced that most of the party’s convention, including Trump’s speech accepting the nomination, would take place in Jacksonville the week of Aug. 24. COVID-19 cases have been increasing across Florida.
“When we signed a few weeks ago, it looked good,” Trump said in the interview. “And now all of a sudden it’s spiking up a little but ... that’s going to go down.”
The convention had earlier been set for Charlotte, North Carolina, but the governor of that state declined to meet Trump’s demands to loosen safeguards against the virus. Several GOP senators have said they are skipping the convention, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he will attend.
Senator Lamar Alexander joined Senator Chuck Grassley in saying he will skip the 2020 Republican convention this year.
Alexander, an honorary chairman of the Tennessee campaign for President Donald Trump, won’t attend “because he believes the delegate spots should be reserved for those who have not had that privilege before as he has had,” said Ashton Davies, Alexander’s communications director, in a statement.
The convention is largely gathering in Jacksonville in late August. Last week, Jacksonville had the fastest-growing rate of coronavirus cases of any metropolitan area in the U.S.
The 80-year-old senator from Tennessee is the among the oldest Republicans in the Senate.
Grassley, who announced Monday he would skip the convention out of concerns about the virus, is 86.
Over the weekend Florida set a record for the highest number of new coronavirus cases in a single day for any state during the pandemic, with nearly 11,500 confirmed cases added on Saturday.
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