Pence says GOP considering moving convention outdoors

Pence says GOP considering moving convention outdoors
© Getty Images

Vice President Pence said Wednesday that Republican officials are considering moving the party’s convention events in Jacksonville, Fla., outdoors next month.

“There's consideration being given to having the convention in an outdoor setting and also putting the kind of measures in place that put the health of all of those participating, our delegates, visitors and anyone else that's present — we'll put the health of everyone participating first,” Pence told reporters on a campaign press call Wednesday afternoon.

Plans for the convention have been marred by uncertainty as a result of dramatically rising coronavirus cases in Florida. President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE, who has pushed for a full-scale convention despite warnings from public health experts, said last week that the GOP would be “flexible” in its planning but offered no specifics on what he meant.

ADVERTISEMENT

Pence echoed Trump’s remarks Wednesday and described the convention as “a work in progress.” He said the campaign is continuously consulting with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry (R) and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisTrump notes GOP governor when asked why he backs mail-in voting in Florida Five people who attended meeting with DeSantis in Florida test positive for coronavirus Journalist covering Trump trip to Florida tests positive for coronavirus MORE (R) as well as other local health officials.

"We're going to work closely with officials in Jacksonville. The RNC is working up those plans, and I'm sure they'll be announced in the forthcoming days by the campaign,” Pence told reporters.

Various media outlets have reported in recent days that GOP officials were planning to move the Jacksonville events outdoors amid health concerns, though those familiar in the discussions have cautioned that they are preparing for various scenarios and that nothing has been made official.

Public health experts have advised against large gatherings during the pandemic, though they say outdoor events are safer than those held indoors.

Meanwhile, Florida on Wednesday surpassed 300,000 coronavirus cases after adding more than 10,000 new reports of individuals infected with COVID-19. The state also exceeded its record for daily deaths on Tuesday after reporting 133.

ADVERTISEMENT

The state has been forced to roll back its reopening of businesses amid the surge in infections. Most of the cases have been concentrated in Miami-Dade County, though other areas, including Jacksonville, have also seen increases in case numbers. Jacksonville late last month mandated residents wear masks inside establishments and in public settings in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

The official convention business is still expected to take place in Charlotte, N.C., where the convention was originally scheduled before Trump moved it because North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) insisted that the GOP plan for a scaled-down convention with fewer people, masks and social distancing. The convention typically draws thousands of people.

In June, the Republican National Committee announced that the main celebratory events of the convention would take place in Jacksonville at the end of August. That includes Trump’s speech in which he will formally accept the 2020 GOP nomination for president.

Naomi Jagoda, Brett Samuels and Jonathan Easley contributed reporting.