The Republican National Committee is planning to sharply limit attendance for its convention in Jacksonville, Fla. next month, shrinking the event celebrating President Trump’s renomination amid concerns about coronavirus.
Party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, who is overseeing planning for the convention, has written a letter to RNC members saying that attendance for the first three nights of the four-night event will be limited to delegates.
When Trump delivers his nomination acceptance speech on the fourth night of the convention, August 27, attendance will be expanded to delegates, a guest of their choosing, and alternate delegates.
Activists, lawmakers and donors typically pack arenas for the events in other election years, and the GOP just moved its convention to Jacksonville from Charlotte last month over worries that state and local authorities in North Carolina would not permit as large a bash as Trump wanted to kick off the final stretch of the 2020 campaign.
But with coronavirus cases skyrocketing in Florida, McDaniel wrote in the letter that “adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines.”
“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” McDaniel wrote. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term — while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
Top party officials met with Trump on Monday evening to hash out plans for the Jacksonville event.
While Democrats have decided to hold their convention virtually, Trump has been insistent on holding his convention in person despite worries about the pandemic.
Trump’s team is also beginning to map out exactly what the convention will look like.
Tony Sayegh, a former Treasury Department official who also helped to steer the White House impeachment defense, is being brought on to help with convention programming.
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law, will also assume a broader role shaping the convention.
Two prominent West Wing aides, Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks, will also be playing a role.
While convention planning typically takes place over the span of two years, Republicans have just two months to organize the event in Florida and raise tens of millions of dollars.
Jeff Miller, a top Republican fundraiser, has been tapped to help raise money for the event.
Party officials say they remain flexible in determining how to proceed. In the letter, McDaniel writes that evening programming will take place each night using a mix of “indoor and outdoor venues.”
Republicans expect the president to deliver his acceptance speech outdoors, but those plans have not been finalized, party officials say.
McDaniel’s letter also says that the party plans to “implement a variety of health protocols,” including temperature checks, coronavirus testing and sanitization.
“I want to reiterate that the RNC is working around the clock to ensure the convention celebration in Jacksonville is still an exciting, premier event,” McDaniel wrote.