GOP main 2020 convention events head to Jacksonville

Moved for less virus restrictions; Trump main speech Aug. 27 at VyStar Arena

SKY News
June 12, 2020 - 6:59 am
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump delivers a speech during the evening session on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Jacksonville, Florida, has been selected to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection, the Republican National Committee chairwoman said Thursday.

Ronna McDaniel made the announcement a day after saying that Jacksonville was a front-runner to hold the event. The governor of North Carolina, the official host of this summer’s Republican National Convention, had balked at promising Trump a full-blown convention in Charlotte free from social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” McDaniel said. “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.”

McDaniel said the event would be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people. She said more details would be released in the coming weeks.

The party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, will still be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations.

The RNC had spent the last week scouting locations after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper rejected Trump’s demand that the convention be allowed to take place Aug. 24-27 without social distancing measures.

RNC business will still take place in Charlotte, with 300-plus delegates traveling there in late August. The Jacksonville events will take place at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. 

The RNC moved the nominating event to Jacksonville due “current North Carolina COVID-19 restrictions [that] would not allow for the celebration to occur in Charlotte.” The president’s acceptance of the nomination was expected to draw about 50,000 people.

“Governor Cooper would not work with the RNC to offer guidelines, the celebration of the nomination and the economic impact that goes with it must be moved to Jacksonville,” the RNC said. “Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry have been very welcoming, and we look forward to bringing a safe and exciting celebration to Jacksonville and the surrounding area.”

Mr. DeSantis, a Republican, said Jacksonville “is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”

“Florida is honored to host this special event where we will celebrate the re-nomination of President Donald J. Trump,” DeSantis said. “Jacksonville is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a former chair of the state Republican Party, tweeted a video announcing his city’s selection for Trump’s speech. He said Jacksonville would be prepared and ready.

“What city would take on the Republican National Convention with just 75 days to pull it off?" he asked. "Probably not many. But Jacksonville isn’t just any city.”

In a statement provided by the RNC, Curry also touted the “tremendous economic impact” from hosting the event. The celebration could generate at least $100 million in revenues for the host city, perhaps more.

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