GOP picks Jacksonville, Florida, for Trump convention speech

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FILE - In this July 21, 2016, file photo, confetti and balloons fall during celebrations after Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's acceptance speech on the final day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. President Donald Trump demanded Monday, May 25, 2020, that North Carolina's Democratic governor sign off immediately on allowing the Republican National Convention to move forward in August with full attendance despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Trump's tweets Monday about the RNC, planned for Charlotte, come just two days after the North Carolina recorded its largest daily increase in positive cases yet. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jacksonville, Florida, has been selected to host the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection, the Republican National Committee chairwoman said Thursday.

Ronna McDaniel made the announcement a day after saying that Jacksonville was a front-runner to hold the event. The governor of North Carolina, the official host of this summer’s Republican National Convention, had balked at promising Trump a full-blown convention in Charlotte free from social distancing measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are thrilled to celebrate this momentous occasion in the great city of Jacksonville,” McDaniel said. “Not only does Florida hold a special place in President Trump’s heart as his home state, but it is crucial in the path to victory in 2020. We look forward to bringing this great celebration and economic boon to the Sunshine State in just a few short months.”

McDaniel said the event would be held at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people. She said more details would be released in the coming weeks.

The party’s more mundane business, including discussions over the platform, will still be held in Charlotte because of contractual obligations.

The RNC had spent the last week scouting locations after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper rejected Trump’s demand that the convention be allowed to take place Aug. 24-27 without social distancing measures.

The Jacksonville area is one of the state’s most populous, with 1.5 million residents, but it doesn’t have the glitz of Miami or the worldwide familiarity of Orlando. The community has tilted from the solidly conservative bastion it once was to the more politically diverse place it now is. While the area’s population is still mostly white, 21% of its 1.5 million residents are black and 9% are Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Florida is honored to host this special event where we will celebrate the re-nomination of President Donald J. Trump,” DeSantis said. “Jacksonville is a great city that will showcase Florida’s energy, facilities, entrepreneurship and commitment to bring together the delegates of the Republican Party at a historic time in our nation’s history.”