Citing health concerns over the coronavirus, President Donald Trump revealed Thursday that he had canceled the portion of the Republican National Convention scheduled to take place next month in Jacksonville, Fla.
Trump announced on June 11 that he would accept the nomination at a live event in Jacksonville, canceling his in-person appearance in Charlotte after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper refused to commit to suspending his state's coronavirus restrictions.
The president had been scheduled to deliver his address in Jacksonville on the 60th anniversary of a brutal Ku Klux Klan attack in the city known as "Ax Handle Saturday."
GOP officials took care not to call the Jacksonville speech a "convention," but rather an event "to celebrate the renomination of President Donald J. Trump." The official convention had always been scheduled for Charlotte.
On Thursday, Trump claimed he told campaign officials that he had canceled the celebration, saying "the timing for this event is not right — it's just not right. The flare-up in Florida — it's just not the right time."
"I have to protect the American people," the president added.
In spite of plummeting poll numbers and approval ratings, Trump has in recent days attempted to strike a somber tone about the coronavirus threat. He declared Tuesday that the pandemic would "get worse before it gets better," endorsing masks on camera for the first time since his administration recommended them in April.
However, the president seems incapable of selling even himself on the pivot. In an interview with Chris Wallace, which aired Sunday on Fox News, Trump harped on a favorite spurious argument about testing and lied about the country's global rank in the metric. He has also sidelined Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert whose advice he has not sought since early June, from media appearances.