Jacksonville the new front-runner to host RNC Convention, GOP chair says

Charlotte Observer reports Jacksonville, Fla., emerged as the front-runner for the marquee event of the Republican National Convention Wednesday — the formal acceptance speech by President Donald Trump — a move prompting sharp backlash from Charlotte leaders.

Such a change would yank the highest profile part of the four-day convention out of Charlotte. Planning for the event in Charlotte had been going on for two years before Trump upended it last week with a tweet.

The president tweeted last week that Republicans would look for a city that could guarantee a big crowd for his acceptance speech in August. That came after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said he couldn’t guarantee full attendance at Charlotte’s Spectrum Center because of uncertainty over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Washington Post and New York Times reported Wednesday that GOP officials had tentatively decided to move the convention to Florida, though Republican National Chair Ronna McDaniel called the reports “definitely premature.”

“We are going to keep… the business of the convention in Charlotte,” she told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “It’s going to be smaller and scaled down. And then we are looking for a different city for a celebration. There’s a couple more things we need to do before we can announce that, but Jacksonville is absolutely in the front-running position.”

Asked about the convention Wednesday afternoon, Trump said, “The governor is not giving an inch.”