Florida expresses interest in hosting GOP conclave if Trump cancels NC event

Miami, May 26 (efe-epa).- Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, said that his state would love to host the Republican National Convention this summer after President Donald Trump threatened to move the event from North Carolina, where it is currently scheduled to be held, unless that state can guarantee that “full attendance” of many thousands of GOP convention-goers would be allowed, despite the measures in place to prohibit large-scale gatherings to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The convention, the big event held by the Republican Party where it formally nominates its presidential candidate – and where it is expected to nominate Trump for re-election in November – draws tens of thousands of attendees including GOP faithful, politicians, officials, activists and organizers and is scheduled to be held in Charlotte on Aug. 24-27.

Trump demanded on the weekend on his Twitter account that the public “immediately (be) given an answer by … (North Carolina Democratic) Governor (Roy Cooper) as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.”

“If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site,” he tweeted.

Cooper responded to that threat by saying that North Carolina is basing its policies on reopening its economy and holding large events of this kind on science to ensure the health and safety of the public and is reviewing with the Republican National Committee its decision regarding the convention.

Both DeSantis and his state’s Republican Party, and even the mayor of the northeastern Florida city of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, have expressed interest in having the important swing state host the prestigious GOP convention.

DeSantis said Tuesday that he had spoken with White House officials about the possibility and expressed confidence that Trump would follow public health guidelines if the event were to be transferred to Florida.

DeSantis said that many Florida cities – citing Miami, Orlando, Tampa and Jacksonville – could quickly organize to hold a four-day convention but he refused to push for a specific site, although Tampa did host the 2012 GOP convention.

The governor said that he had not spoken with the president about the matter but had certainly “let the folks at the White House know that we want to work with him.”

“We lost out on some of our traditional events that we normally do (due to the coronavirus),” DeSantis said. “Some of the golf tournaments, tennis. We had WrestleMania, scheduled for April, which people don’t realize is hundreds of millions of dollars of economic activity. So, I think that (holding the GOP convention) would be great.”

Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s Mayor Curry said it would be an “honor” to host the convention and the Republican Party of Florida also said that there was no better place than the Sunshine State to hold the convention, given that Trump is actually now a Florida resident, having recently transferred his official residence from New York, and Florida is the largest state – in population and electoral votes – that is in play in the November vote.

If the convention is moved, Trump on Tuesday ruled out holding it at one of his South Florida properties, tweeting: “I have zero interest in moving the Republican National Convention to Doral in Miami, as falsely reported by the Fake News @nytimes in order to stir up trouble,” and adding “Ballroom is not nearly big enough & would like to stay in N.C., whose gov. doesn’t even know if he can let people in?”

Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday began making his own pitch for the GOP event, tweeting: “With world-class facilities, restaurants, hotels, and workforce, Georgia would be honored to safely host the Republican National Convention,” and adding “We hope you will consider the Peach State, @realdonaldtrump!”

Trump has threatened in his Twitter posts on the weekend that if North Carolina decided not to hold the massive convention “we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.”

In an update of its protocols, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said last week that it was lifting some of the isolation measures but it was still not recommending the holding of large-scale public events at which many people would be in close contact with one another.

North Carolina authorities have confirmed the detection of more than 24,000 coronavirus cases, with 766 of those people dying from the Covid-19 pneumonia the virus causes, with May 23 being the date – so far – on which the largest number of new cases were registered: 1,107.

Florida health authorities on Tuesday reported a total of 52,255 confirmed coronavirus cases since March 1 and 2,259 deaths, as populous southeastern Broward County reopened its beaches, albeit retaining protective and social distancing measures.

Also on Tuesday, the three southeastern Florida counties hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic – Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach – allowed Catholic churches to begin offering religious services, as they also plan to take other measures to gradually reopen their societies and economies.

Before the pandemic, the Republican Party estimated that approximately 50,000 people would gather in Charlotte in and near the venue where the convention is to be held.

Trump will face off against former Vice President Joe Biden, who is the Democratic Party’s almost certain presidential nominee, in the Nov. 3 election.

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