Trump on Republican Convention in Jacksonville: ‘We’re very flexible’

Jacksonville chosen as host city for President Trump's renomination speech

President Donald Trump speaks during a "National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America's Schools," event in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday, July 7, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – During an interview with Gray Television’s Greta Van Susteren, President Donald Trump was asked about Jacksonville being chosen as the city to host the Republican National Convention as both concern over the coronavirus and reported cases continue on an upward trend in the Sunshine State.

The decision to move the president’s renomination celebration from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville has sparked weeks of debate over whether the River City is the best choice to host the GOP convention, and it’s likely the president’s comments that were shared Tuesday night will continue to fuel that discussion.

Van Susteren: “It’s obviously good to be nominated by your party and in Jacksonville, Florida, but it’s in Florida. If the numbers continue to go up in Florida, and they continue to spike maybe testing or whatever but numbers going up, would you consider not having as big a convention?”

Trump: “Well, we’re always looking at different things. When we signed in Jacksonville and, again, we wanted to be in North Carolina, that almost worked out but the governor didn’t want to have people use the arena essentially and we sort of said, too bad. Too bad for North Carolina, and then we went to Florida and when we went when we signed a few weeks ago, it looked good and now all of a sudden it’s spiking up a little bit and that’s going to go down -- it really depends on the timing. Look, we’re very flexible. We could do a lot of things but we’re very flexible.”

As of Tuesday, Jacksonville had reported 9,835 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Curry said hospitalizations for the coronavirus are going up but that those patients aren’t flooding the intensive care units at local hospitals. He said the ICU beds, which are closely monitored, are filling up, but not with COVID-19 patients.

The mayor spoke about the RNC on Tuesday, pointing out that the event is “many, many weeks away.” He said city officials are acting appropriately now and will continue to act appropriately as the Aug. 24 convention nears.

“We are currently under a statewide executive order by the governor,” he said. “Facilities cannot participate in anything over 50-percent capacity. That’s where we are right now, and so we’re just going to continue to evaluate as we move towards that date.”

On Monday, a group of more than 70 pastors sent a letter to Mayor Lenny Curry, arguing against bringing the convention to Jacksonville. That letter comes after the mayor’s office received a letter from nearly 200 physicians, saying the RNC should be postponed.

The convention has announced it will conduct daily tests of those attending the event at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena.

President Trump says the Republican party is "flexible" when it comes to how they will plan the Republican National Convention set to take place in downtown Jacksonville next month.

Trump and Van Susteren covered a variety of topics and the interview won’t be released in full until Sunday on Gray Television.

About the Authors:

Joy Purdy co-anchors the 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts with Tarik Minor and the 11 p.m. weeknight newscasts with Kent Justice.