DemDaily: Trump Backs Down

July 24, 2020

President Trump appears to have done an about-face on his approach to the coronavirus pandemic that continues to ravage parts of the country, announcing yesterday that he was cancelling the planned in-person portion of the Republican Convention celebration in Jacksonville, Florida.

More than four months after COVID was declared a national crisis, with over 4 million US citizens infected and 145,676 dead as of today, Trump has finally acknowledged the health risks to the public.

"We won't do a big, crowded convention, per se - it's not the right time for that," Trump said to reporters in the White House briefing room.

On June 11th, the Republican National Committee announced that Trump's renomination speech and other grand convention festivities would move to Jacksonville, Florida, after state officials in North Carolina refused to go along with Trump's demands for a crowded large-scale event in Charlotte, the original convention site.

Trump has since been urging Florida and other states to reopen their economies and return to normal public life, despite warnings by public health officials and leaders in his own party, some of whom have announced they would not attend the convention due to the dangers of such a large gathering.

As Florida's COVID cases spiked to over 400,000, however, including almost 30,000 new cases over the last 72 hours, Trump backed down -- acknowledging, at last, the health risks.

The announcement comes as public polling shows strong disapproval of the President's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. A July 12-15, 2020 Washington Post-ABC Poll shows 60% of the public disapproves of Trump's handling of the outbreak and 52% "strongly" disapprove, a number that has roughly doubled since March. Only 38% of Americans approve of his handling of the outbreak, down from 46% in May and 51% in March. 

Trump's shift in attitude can also be attributed to his flailing renomination campaign. A national YouGov survey of registered voters, conducted July 19-21, 2020, shows Biden leading Trump 48% to 41%.

He is also trailing in major battleground states, including Florida, which Trump narrowly won in 2016 by 2.1%.  According to a July 16-20, 2020 Quinnipiac poll, Biden leads Trump 51% to 38% in the Sunshine State.

In the news conference, Trump stated that the August 24-27 GOP Convention will begin in Charlotte, "as always been planned," where delegates will still meet in-person, and where they are "going to do other things with tele-rallies and online," and he will still do a convention speech "in a different form."

While Trump admitted that Florida was a "hotspot," his announcement was not a complete reversal. Like a petulant child, he pointed to maps with alleged COVID figures behind him on display, saying that "alot of the country has no problem whatsoever, most of the country actually."

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: Washington Post, New York Times

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