There’s a story in today’s Tampa Bay Times about how Trump’s decision to pull the plug on the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville under-bused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis:
It was a chance for the 41-year-old Republican to snag a top billing during Trump’s final coronation and test the waters for a potential run at the GOP presidential nomination in 2024. In an interview last month, Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters said he expected the convention would “put Gov. DeSantis in the spotlight and add fuel to his efforts to make a national name for himself.”
But Trump’s sudden announcement Thursday not only dashed those plans, but raised doubts about DeSantis’ own response to the coronavirus. On the same day DeSantis contended Florida’s outbreak was showing signs of slowing down, Trump argued it was too dangerous to hold a convention there…
The reversal came just seven weeks after DeSantis convinced Trump’s campaign to move the GOP’s biggest quadrennial event from Charlotte to Jacksonville amid a pandemic. Florida could fly in and put up thousands of delegates, fete Trump in style and keep attendees safe from a fast-spreading disease, DeSantis said in June. And they could do it without all those pesky safety restrictions that North Carolina’s Gov. Roy Cooper would have required in Charlotte. On top of that, the governor boldly predicted a $100 million economic windfall for Jacksonville.
No debut on the national stage for DeSantis. No windfall for Jacksonville — in fact, donors and local officials were left holding the bag for the canceled event.
I happened to be watching CNN when Trump announced that the convention was a no-go. I usually lunge for the remote when the Great Rotten Pumpkin looms onto the screen and wait for the Sarah Cooper version. But this time I listened, unsurprised yet stupefied by the clownish, self-congratulatory way Trump drove the clown bus over DeSantis and assorted others:
This afternoon, my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the convention in Jacksonville, Florida. It’s a place I love and I love that state. The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well. A tremendous list of speakers, thousands of people wanting to be there, and I mean, in some cases desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country. They wanted to be there. The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line.
But I looked at my team and I said, “The timing for this event is not right. It’s just not right with what’s happened recently, the flare up in Florida, to have a big convention. It’s not the right time.” It’s really something that, for me, I have to protect the American… really something that for me, I have to protect the American people. That’s what I’ve always done. That’s what I always will do. That’s what I’m about.
They said, “Sir, we can make this work very easily. We have great enthusiasm, incredible enthusiasm.” Even the polls say about the most enthusiasm they’ve seen. We can do this safely and we can do it responsibly. I said, there’s nothing more important in our country than keeping our people safe, whether that’s from the China virus or the radical left mob that you see in Portland… People elected me to help and to protect. So I told my team it’s time to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida, component of the GOP Convention.
It’s easy to imagine what REALLY happened. Perhaps it fell to a flunky like Ronna ROMNEY McDaniel, Jared or not-Parscale to tell Trump that:
- The coronavirus is spiraling out of control in Florida
- 62% of Floridians in a recent poll said they don’t want the super-spreader event held here as our hospitals fill up
- The local Republican sheriff said last week “we can’t pull it off” due to lack of funds, poor planning and a scarcity of law enforcement personnel.
Trump probably threw a screaming hissy fit about “the pageantry” and the thousands “desperately wanting to be there” and the ratings bonanza, blah blah blah. But then someone like Kellyanne or Ivanka pitched the cancellation as an opportunity to showcase his role as America’s protector against the virus and the radical left mob. So he waddled out and said what he said. Thump-thump.
It’s a humiliating disaster for Trump, and it’s a seismic shit-storm for DeSantis too. One RNC official described it as “a multimillion dollar debacle and think of where that money could have gone,” i.e., testing, tracking and tracing. Whomp-whomp.