President Trump will accept the GOP nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, after disagreements over how to host the event amid the coronavirus pandemic derailed plans in North Carolina, the Republican National Committee announced Thursday.
"We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville," said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "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."
The official business of the convention will still take place in Charlotte, but the events typically associated with conventions, such as Mr. Trump's acceptance of the nomination, will be in Florida.
The committee has not yet announced how it will handle health precautions in a state where coronavirus cases are currently on the rise, according to an analysis by the AP.
The convention, which has been over a year in the making, was set to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, but the state's Democratic Governor Roy Cooper would not promise to grant the request of the RNC to allow 19,000 delegates and attendees into the Spectrum Arena for the celebration.
According to a letter from an aide to Cooper, Mr. Trump made clear in a phone call in May that he wanted "a crowd-like setting" without social distancing or face masks. Governor Cooper wrote back that he couldn't predict coronavirus conditions in August, so Mr. Trump announced over Twitter that the party would look elsewhere for a place to hold the convention.
The Democratic National Committee was quick to comment on the change in plans, saying in a statement, "The RNC is planning a convention for an audience of one: Donald Trump's ego. More than 113,000 Americans have died and millions have lost their jobs all because Donald Trump has been hiding in his bunker and leaving the American people to grapple with his ineptitude. Now, Trump and Republicans have decided to handle their convention planning the same way they've handled the entire coronavirus crisis: prioritize Trump's ego over Americans' health and safety. While Donald Trump refuses to listen to health experts because he only cares about himself, Democrats will follow science and prioritize the health and safety of the American people."
Convention officials toured several possible cities in recent weeks including Nashville, Savannah, Phoenix and Dallas. According to an RNC official, all of the cities promised more participants and attendees than Cooper would commit to allowing in Charlotte.
Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis offered the state as a place to host the convention as soon as the squabble between Governor Cooper and the committee became public.
Former GOP convention officials say the RNC could face legal challenges if it packed up the convention and took it out of North Carolina completely since the party signed a contractual agreement with the city of Charlotte upon accepting its bid to host the Convention in July 2018.
The executive committee of the RNC voted Wednesday to hold official business in Charlotte. The RNC has pared down the number of delegates attending in Charlotte from over 2,000 to just around 336. Only six delegates from each state and territory will travel to North Carolina. The committee also voted to keep the 2016 platform until 2024 with no changes allowed.