WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Republican National Convention that was scheduled to take place in Jacksonville next month has been called off. President Donald Trump on Thursday canceled the three-day celebration, saying “it’s just not the right time for that” due to coronavirus concerns.
“Obviously we’re disappointed,” Rep. Greg Steube said Friday.
The Florida Republican who represents part of the Tampa Bay area said the news came as a surprise.
“I don’t think many people knew that, that was coming,” Steube said.
But both Steube and Georgia Republican Congressman Jody Hice said they understand why rising coronavirus concern changed the president’s mind.
“The safety of people certainly comes before a normal political process,” Hice said.
Hice said he doesn’t think pulling out of the swing state celebration will hurt the president’s re-election chances come November.
And a spokesperson for Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said he looks forward to making sure President Trump “has a big win in Florida and across the country.”
The convention’s official business will go on as planned in Charlotte, North Carolina but exactly where and how the president will accept his nomination remains to be seen.
“So he hasn’t decided that just yet, but we have a number of really creative exciting options that he’s looking at,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday.
McEnany said that this isn’t part of a larger change in the president’s attitude toward the virus.
“Circumstances changed in Florida where we intended to have the convention. As the circumstances on the ground changed, the president changed his viewpoint,” she said.
When asked why the president supports reopening schools but is against convention crowds, McEnany said “schools are a different situation.”