President Donald Trump will deliver his acceptance speech as the Republican presidential nominee in Jacksonville, following a dispute between the president and the governor of North Carolina over COVID-19 precautions.
Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel announced Thursday night that the party will hold the late August convention at the 15,000-capacity VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena rather than in Charlotte, where the GOP spent two years planning for Trump’s 2020 re-election spectacle.
"We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville," McDaniel said in a press release. "Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump’s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months."
Florida Republicans have been lobbying for the move since Trump expressed displeasure that North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was "unable to guarantee" that coronavirus social-distancing requirements would be lifted before the Republican convention, scheduled for Aug. 24 to Aug. 27.
Instead, around 336 party delegates now are expected to meet in Charlotte for the first day of the event before heading to northeast Florida, where they are to meet up with more than 2,000 other delegates for three days of speeches and other activities.
The move to Jacksonville highlights the importance of Florida, a battleground state with a history of razor-thin elections, in Trump's effort to secure a second term. Both parties consider a Sunshine State win crucial for a White House victory.Gov. RonDeSantis, a close ally of Trump, has repeatedly praised Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry for the city’s efforts to minimize the impact of the novel coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease known as COVID-19. DeSantis previously has noted that bringing the convention to Florida would be a tremendous benefit to the state economy, which suffered a major blow following massive shutdowns in March aimed at curbing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
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