By Albert Traver
Washington, Jul 23 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States on Thursday said he had agreed to cancel the Republican National Convention due to the coronavirus epidemic.
With the epidemic uncontrolled in his country and exceeding 4 million cases, Donald Trump was this past week punished in polling over his management of the crisis and has taken a 180-degree turn in his rhetoric.
First he embraced the use of masks – which for months he had been against, then he urged the youth to avoid crowds, then he agreed that not all schools will open in the fall, and now he has canceled his coveted convention.
The president had chosen Jacksonville, Florida, for the RNC after local authorities at the original headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina, limited capacity to the event due to the pandemic.
Republicans were aiming to gather some 15,000 people in an open-air stadium for Trump’s acceptance speech and other political events, but the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in Florida has thwarted his plans.
Florida has accumulated more than 385,000 confirmed cases and 5,518 deaths. In this state, more than 10,000 daily cases have been recorded in 11 of the last 14 days.
“The timing for this event is not right. It’s not right with what’s happened recently – the flare-up in Florida,” Trump said at the start of his daily COVID-19 press conference.
“I have to protect the American people. That’s what I’ve always done, that’s what I always will do, that’s what I’m about,” said the president.
Despite the fact that the big events of the RNC that were to take place in Jacksonville over Aug. 25-27 are canceled, Trump said that some Republican delegates will meet on the 24th in Charlotte to formalize candidacy for the election on Nov. 3.
Trump also confirmed at the press conference that he will deliver an acceptance speech, for which he did not offer details, although it will probably have to be without an audience.
The president also announced that the events of Aug. 24 in Charlotte will be complemented by a series of virtual events, as members of the Democratic Party are also planning to do with their convention.
Democrats were to hold their convention – in which they would nominate former vice president Joe Biden as presidential candidate – in July, but in a show of optimism when the epidemic seemed under control in the US they postponed the event till August, in the week before the RNC.
However, a month ago they also yielded to the evidence that gathering thousands of people under one roof is unfeasible and asked its 4,000 delegates to cancel their plans to travel to Milwaukee.
Although state delegations will not attend the event, with voting to be virtual, some of the speeches will be in person, including that of Biden, and will take place in Milwaukee.
Maintaining a presence in Milwaukee is important to the Democrats since Wisconsin was one of the states – along with Pennsylvania and Michigan – that Trump won unexpectedly in 2016, paving his way to the White House.
It was also important for Trump to celebrate his convention between Florida and North Carolina, two states that he won in 2016, but which are now under threat of falling into the hands of Biden. EFE-EPA