TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign is changing its tune on the Republican National Convention.
For weeks campaign staff has echoed the president’s sentiments that having an RNC in-person is a good idea. That’s despite the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic.
Director of Strategic Communications Marc Lotter said Wednesday the event would be safe and secure for those that wanted to attend.
“America wasn’t built by people who hide— we were built by people who take risks,” he said. “I know that’s what this president is thinking, that we can be open and healthy and safe, all at the same time.”
Fewer than 48 hours later, Press Secretary Hogan Gidley offering a different message, saying Trump called off the event after consulting with experts.
“The president saw all the data, talked to the folks and said, ‘We’re not going to do that. I want to make sure the American people are safe,’” Gidley said.
Gidley also saying the decision shouldn’t be taken as a reflection on Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership during the crisis, though case numbers and deaths have risen in recent weeks. The state now considered a national epicenter of the disease.
“Florida, for all the media trying to rain down such hatred on a great state like that— you’re still a fraction of the deaths that occurred in a place like New York or New Jersey,” Gidley said. “It’s pretty clear, some states are doing things right. Some states are doing things wrong.”
Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, Nikki Fried, feeling just the opposite. The ag commissioner saying Friday Governor DeSantis shut down Florida too late and reopened too soon. His mistakes, she says, are costing lives and delaying a quicker recovery.
“We really would have had an opportunity to beat this virus,” she said. “That wasn’t the case and the governor continued to show a lack of leadership… That is showing by the fact that they had to cancel the RNC here in Florida.”
There are those still hoping something like the convention will happen. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont) says an RNC styled event before November could give the GOP a momentum boost.
“I just don’t think it’s a good idea to cancel,” said the Republican. “It’s the silent majority. It’s a lot of people who are really excited. We need an event to basically channel that strength and excitement.”
While the president’s big speech is no longer happening, other elements of the RNC are. The official nominating business will remain in Charlotte, slated for Aug 24.