On Monday, The New York Times reported that as key Republican lawmakers continue to bail on President Donald Trump’s nomination acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida, many GOP officials are bracing for low turnout.
“As new cases surge in Florida, including 15,300 reported on Sunday, more Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the event, or deciding to skip it all together,” reported Reid Epstein, Nicholas Fandos and Patricia Mazzei. “The G.O.P., which moved the convention to Jacksonville from Charlotte, N.C., after balking at health precautions there, now finds itself locked into a state with a far bigger virus problem, and planning an event whose attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.”
So far, a number of GOP senators and representatives have said they will not be attending, with the two most recent names to pull out being Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Pat Roberts (R-KS). Even some lawmakers in Florida will not be attending, like Reps. Francis Rooney and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Sen. Marco Rubio hasn’t committed to going either.
“Everybody just assumes no one is going,” said Rep. Darin LaHood (R-IL), who serves as one of the Trump campaign’s honorary state co-chairs.
Trump moved major portions of the convention, including the speech, to Jacksonville after balking at the public safety restrictions on large gatherings in the original host city of Charlotte, North Carolina. But even Jacksonville is now imposing mask requirements and other limitations as coronavirus explodes in Florida, leading the campaign to explore outdoor venue options and other changes that would still let Trump speak to a large crowd.