Florida Republicans Praise 'Selfless' Trump for Canceling Jacksonville RNC

Florida Republicans have praised President Donald Trump's "selfless" decision to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida portion of the Republican National Convention amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Several state and city GOP officials said Trump had "put the safety and wellbeing of Floridians first" by blocking the bulk of RNC celebrations from going ahead in Jacksonville as Florida continued to record thousands of new daily COVID-19 cases.

Two state Republicans also said they were "disappointed" that the event would no longer be going ahead in the city, despite accepting the president's decision.

Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room last night, Trump said: "The timing for this event is not right, it's just not right with what's happened recently, the flare up in Florida. To have a big convention, it's not the right time."

The president added that there was "nothing more important" than keeping people safe amid the pandemic, and claimed that he had asked his team to cancel the Jacksonville portion of the RNC.

President Donald Trump Florida Map
Donald Trump gestures to a map while speaking during a news conference on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Reacting to the announcement, the Florida Republican Party tweeted: "Donald Trump made a selfless decision by cancelling the FL component of @GOP Convention. He put the safety and wellbeing of Floridians first.

"His leadership will continue to energize voters and we look forward to helping him win FL on his way to a second term as President."

Issuing a joint statement with Jacksonville's sheriff, GOP Mayor Lenny Curry said he appreciated Trump's decision to prioritize public health and safety concerns.

"As always, in Jacksonville public safety is our number one priority," Curry said. "President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety of Jacksonville, Florida and the people of the United States of America."

U.S. Rep. John Rutherford of Florida also weighed in on the decision, saying it was "truly a disappointment" to see the Jacksonville portion of the RNC canceled.

"Northeast Florida was ready to show their magnificent support for President Trump, but, you know, as he's always done, it puts America first," Rutherford told News4Jax on Thursday night.

Speaking to The New York Times, the Florida GOP chairman Joe Gruters said: "The president is obviously putting safety first and foremost, and I'm glad. We're disappointed that this is not coming to Jacksonville, but Florida still loves the president, and we're going to deliver the state."

Announcing his decision in the White House last night, Trump said he had told Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about his move to cancel RNC events in Jacksonville.

The state leader backed the president's initial decision to host part of the national convention in the city. But The Times reported earlier this month that DeSantis had hindered attempts to raise money for the event.

Newsweek has contacted the office of Gov. DeSantis for comment. This article will be updated with any response.

President Trump announced that the Jacksonville portion of the RNC had been canceled as the Florida Department of Health announced that more than 10,000 new positive COVID-19 cases had been recorded in the state on Wednesday.

The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Florida stood at almost 390,000 as of Thursday night, with more than 5,500 cases leading to deaths in the state.

Duval County, the home of Jacksonville, had recorded more than 18,300 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Friday morning. A total of 113 local cases had resulted in death.

According to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker, the total number of U.S. cases topped the 4 million on Thursday night, causing several hospitals in major cities to near capacity.