President Donald Trump sparked an explosion of angry takes with his announcement on Thursday that he was canceling Republican National Convention events slated to take place next month in Jacksonville, Florida, over COVID-19 concerns.
Canceled: "It's just not the right time," Trump, who has in the past accused the press of overplaying the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, told reporters at a White House press briefing. "To have a big convention, it’s just not the right time.”
- The president said his campaign would "do some other things with telerallies and online" the week of the event.
- Last month, the RNC chose Jacksonville as the site of major segments of the convention, after initially selecting Charlotte, North Carolina.
The latest change of plans came amid a spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in Florida, which has become the new epicenter of the outbreak in America.
The reaction: The president's prudence inflamed and outraged many of both his critics and supporters.
Democratic politicians, journalists and left-leaning pundits said Trump's move to cancel the event contradicted his rhetoric.
Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols derisively recalled Trump's comments last month about coronavirus "embers," though the president also said there could be "flames," and vowed, "We'll stop them out."
Dozens of RNC members were going to skip Jacksonville.— Eli Stokols (@EliStokols) July 24, 2020
Trump’s cover story — that a big RNC event is too risky — is precisely what NC officials told him a month ago & undercuts his own claims that the virus is down to “embers.”
w/ @Noahbierman https://t.co/hl4XhR1xYs
Other detractors, like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat, wondered how Trump could push to reopen schools in the fall while canceling the convention events.
How can the @GOP say it's not safe for adults to gather at a FLA political convention while ALSO saying it's safe for our children and teachers to return to school? The cognitive dissonance is baffling. https://t.co/5UPVJnw4B6— Debbie Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) July 24, 2020
Many Trump fans, for their part, saw the president as having capitulated to media and Democrat fear-mongering.
Sorry, I don’t agree with it. Looks like he caved. Makes me sad🤷♀️🇺🇸🦅✌️❤️🙏— nOtMpRssD (@WendyJoJo1966) July 23, 2020
"I dont get his approach. What happened to 'cure cant be worse than virus itself'? this cancellation is him bowing to the mask mob & it wont satisfy them, they will push further now that he has cracked. his edge is gone. Betting it all on a vax is an odd strategy-the flu is worse," tweeted one commenter.
Days prior to the president's announcement, Trump-supporting conservative commentator Deanna Lorraine said nixing the gatherings in Jacksonville would be about politics, not public health.
If Trump were to cancel the GOP Convention in Jacksonville, the coronavirus cases in Florida would grind to a halt in about 3 days. This is ALL about cancelling the convention.— DeAnna Lorraine 🇺🇸 (@DeAnna4Congress) July 20, 2020
Is Trump changing his tune on coronavirus? Coronavirus skeptics had already grown concerned as Trump in recent weeks projected greater-than-usual seriousness about the threat posed by COVID-19.
- After donning a mask for the first time earlier this month, the president on Monday suggested in a tweet that it was a "patriotic" thing to do.
- On Tuesday, Trump revived the daily White House coronavirus briefings.
- But Dr. Anthony Fauci, formerly a star of the events, was not invited to attend and appeared to have been sidelined by the White House.