RNC considers hosting August convention in Florida outdoors


A woman walks past the Republican Party elephant logo.

Dominick Reuter | AFP | fake pictures

According to a committee spokesperson, organizers of the Republican National Convention are considering holding the event outdoors as coronavirus cases skyrocket in Florida.

The convention withdrew from Charlotte, North Carolina, where it was originally expected, and moved to Jacksonville, Florida, after President Donald Trump clashed with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, who expected organizers to adhere to strict guidelines. of social distancing during the event.

Officials in a handful of other states expressed interest in organizing the convention, scheduled for August 24 and 27. Florida, backed by Governor Ron DeSantis, finally received the go-ahead on June 11.

But with Covid-19 cases now on the rise in the state, organizers are planning to organize the convention at least partly outdoors instead of at the indoor VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena as planned.

“We are planning multiple scenarios and various health precautions,” said an RNC spokesperson. “We had already contracted several locations around the Vystar, including several outdoor locations.”

An exterior view of the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida.

Douglas P. DeFelice | fake pictures

Convention planning is a huge undertaking that involves tens of millions of dollars, dozens of pages of legal contracts, an intense renovation of the arena, and citywide adjustments to prepare to welcome the tens of thousands of people in attendance.

Moving the outdoor event in August, when the weather in Florida can be hot, humid, and potentially extreme, could add unknown elements to an already difficult transition.

The change of venue shocked previous organizers of the convention, who told CNBC in June that they are skeptical that the Republican Party could hold such an event on such a scale in a short time.

“My personal view is that planning a traditional convention of the size and scale normally seen over a two-month period is not possible,” said Joe Roman, former vice chair of the Cleveland Host Committee, which organized the 2016 convention. ” There are so many points that must be connected to achieve this. “

Some media reported last week that the Republican National Committee has evaluated the possibility of organizing the convention outdoors. Planning officials made the decision Monday night to withdraw the VyStar events, according to The New York Times.

When contacted for comment, the Trump campaign referred CNBC to the Republican National Committee for any questions related to the convention.

Trump has been eager to hold a traditional convention with cheering crowds to raise his flag campaign. His Democratic rival Joe Biden is leading in most national polls and in neighboring states, including Florida. But the pandemic can succeed in destroying its plans.

Florida reported more than 15,000 cases on Sunday. It was the highest total in a single day of any US state since the pandemic hit the nation, including New York at the peak of its outbreak.

The coronavirus outbreak has spread worldwide, with more than 13.1 million confirmed cases and more than 574,600 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The United States has had at least 3.3 million cases and 135,900 deaths, according to the latest counts.

– CNBC’s Christina Wilkie contributed to this report.

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