President Trump announced during a news conference Thursday afternoon that he has cancelled parts of the Republican National Convention that were scheduled to take place in Jacksonville next month, citing a “flare-up” of the coronavirus in the state.
He added that convention events will still be held in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“To have a big convention is not the right time,” Trump said of the Jacksonville cancellation.
The commander-in-chief moved parts of the GOP convention to Florida last month during a dispute with North Carolina’s Democratic leaders over holding an indoor event with maskless supporters.
However, those plans were gradually reduced as virus cases spiked in Florida and much of the country over the last month.
A small group of GOP delegates will still gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, to formally renominate the president on Aug. 24.
“It’s a different world, and it will be for a little while,” Trump said, explaining his decision.
Trump said he would deliver an acceptance speech in an alternate form, potentially online.
He went on to say that “I just felt it was wrong” to attract delegates to a virus hotspot, as some of them would have faced quarantine requirements upon returning to their home states.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 23, 2020
“We didn’t want to take any chances,” he added. “We have to be vigilant. we have to be careful and we have to set an example.”
In recent weeks, Trump’s aides and allies have encouraged the president to call off the convention due to concerns over the virus. The president acknowledged that on Thursday, saying, “I could see the media saying, ‘Oh, this is very unsafe.’”
More than 10,000 people were expected to attend in Jacksonville, which was already a fraction of the number that would attend a normal convention.
At this point, just 336 delegates will be allowed to participate in Charlotte under extraordinary procedures that were approved last month by the Republican National Committee.
The remainder of the more than 2,500 delegates will vote by proxy.
Democrats plan to hold an almost entirely virtual convention Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, party officials say.
Former Vice President and Democratic candidate Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person
However, it is unknown whether there will be a significant in-person audience.