Trump says Jacksonville out as GOP convention site

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention has been scrapped, and that the nominating process will be remain in North Carolina.

“I’ll still do a convention speech, in a different form,” Trump told reporters. “But we won’t do a big crowded convention. The area that we’re talking about is a hot spot.”

“I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida component of the GOP convention,” Trump said. “To have a big convention, it’s just not right.”

The president said events in Charlotte will still be held and he will still make an acceptance speech in a different form.

“The delegates are going to North Carolina, they’ll be doing the nomination,” Trump said.

The convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27.

“I just felt it was wrong for people to go to a hot spot,” Trump said.

Trump said Florida officials did not pressure or ask for the convention to be moved out of the state.

“I’d just say it was safety” as the deciding factor, the president said.

In a joint statement, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams thanked Trump for his decision.

“We appreciate President Donald Trump considering our public health and safety concerns in making this incredibly difficult decision,” the statement said. “As always, in Jacksonville public safety is our number one priority.”

Jacksonville had been chosen to hold part of the convention on June 11. At the time, Curry said the convention was “a tremendous opportunity,” WJAX reported. That decision was made after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced that keeping the convention in Charlotte would be predicated on a scaled-back version in order to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump said the formal nominating process in Charlotte will proceed as scheduled, but the celebratory part of the convention, which was to take place in Jacksonville, is now off the table, The Washington Post reported.

Trump said thousands of people “desperately” wanted to attend, adding he was disappointed the convention could not be held in Florida.

“The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line,” Trump said.