In her column for the Washington Post, conservative Jennifer Rubin warned Republicans that they and Donald Trump are making a huge mistake by going forward with their presidential nominating convention in Jacksonville, Florida which is currently seeing an explosion of COVID-19 virus cases.
Following a weekend where the country observed Trump speaking at a rally in Tulsa arena that was only one-third-full, the Never Trumper columnist suggested that the Florida Republican National Convention has all the makings of a disaster that will make Tulsa look like a minor bump in the road to re-election.
At issue, she pointed out, is the possibility that the president will be putting GOP delegates and other attendees in Jacksonville at risk of contracting the deadly coronavirus -- to say nothing of the optics of a less than capacity indoor arena due to health concerns.
Pointing out that Florida's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis was quick to re-open up the state's popular beaches in the early days of the pandemic -- and now "Florida officials are slowly waking up to the frightening reality that covid-19 is spreading like wildfire in their state" -- Rubin said the stage is set for a disaster.
"Despite the surge in cases in his state, DeSantis has, thus far, been disinclined to roll back the measures he instituted such as opening gyms and bars, even as a new breakout threatens to overwhelm the state’s health-care system," Rubin wrote. "He also stubbornly refuses to make masks mandatory — even though rock-ribbed conservatives such as Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.) say such mask-wearing is 'pretty basic' and urge Floridians to 'to take this seriously, wear your mask, social distance. Don’t go to places you don’t have to go to.' (Scott, nevertheless, inexplicably stopped short of supporting a statewide mask requirement and does not want to consider reimposing aspects of the stay-at-home orders which have been relaxed as the virus has spread.)"
According to columnist, Trump's desire to proceed could lead to two campaign-crippling results: conventions-related COVID-19 spread and empty seats indicating a lack of Republican enthusiasm for the candidate.
Writing, "This has all the earmarks of a health and political disaster," Rubin explained, "Trump could insist on going forward, contributing to the outbreak, the death toll and the anxiety among Florida’s older population. Even if he does not care about others’ health, he should worry about a repeat of Tulsa, where only 6,200 of 19,000 seats were filled."
Those empty seats could come back to haunt the president in November.
"If that rally showed Trump anything, it was that even his most devoted fans may be disinclined to expose themselves to coronavirus in a venue where masks and social distancing are not required. Might at least some delegates, elected officials, donors and other visitors be disinclined to provide the bursting-at-the-seams extravaganza he wants?" she asked before concluding, "A debacle of that magnitude would make Tulsa look like a walk in the park."