By Yael Halon-Fox News
President Trump explained his decision to cancel the Republican National Convention events that were scheduled to take place next month in Jacksonville, Fla., in an exclusive interview on “Hannity” Thursday.
Citing the rising numbers of COVID-19 in the state, Trump told Sean Hannity that he is “setting an example” with the last-minute change, which he hopes will encourage citizens to practice social distancing.
“It’s really the China virus, call it COVID, call it any one of a lot of different names,” Trump said, “but we are setting an example. We don’t want to have people so close together.”
Trump announced the cancellation during a press briefing at the White House earlier Thursday, telling reporters that “the timing for this event is… just not right.”
The Republican National Committee (RNC) last month chose Jacksonville to host major portions of the convention, after largely abandoning the city of Charlotte, N.C., over disagreements on coronavirus-related crowd restrictions.
Trump told Hannity that he was looking forward to a large event in North Carolina, and slammed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper whom he said “could have treated us better.”
“We’ve had such enthusiasm, everybody wanted to go,” he asserted. “You know we went to North Carolina, we wanted to do it there. It was all set. We were gonna build a beautiful facility, and it got hit hard, and then the governor really, he could have treated us better. Democrat governor, but we are actually opening up there.”
While the Jacksonville portion of the convention has been canceled, Trump said delegates will still meet in North Carolina and that he will give an address when he accepts the nomination.
“It won’t be your typical convention, I can say that,” the president acknowledged, “but it’s gonna be very safe and I thought I had an obligation not to have large numbers, massive numbers crowded into a room.”
Bill Stepien, Trump’s reelection campaign manager, praised the move in a statement, writing: “Leading by example, President Trump has put the health and safety of the American people first with his decision on the Jacksonville convention.”
And the Republican Party of Florida tweeted that Trump “made a selfless decision by canceling the FL component of @GOP Convention.”