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Politics / Issues

History Will Be Made in Jacksonville, Says Duval County GOP Chair

Jacksonville will host the biggest pieces of the 2020 National Republican Convention this August.
Jacksonville will host the biggest pieces of the 2020 National Republican Convention this August.

President Trump will accept the Republican presidential nomination in Florida this summer. The president decided on Jacksonville — and not Charlotte, North Carolina — as the place to officially accept the GOP's nomination. Trump wanted North Carolina to guarantee Republicans would be able to have a full convention without social distancing rules met to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Moving the public part of the convention to Florida will bring the president back to the state where he spends a great deal of his time — at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach. It’s a state he has to win in November to stay in the White House. And the news comes as Florida experienced its highest number of new confirmed coronavirus cases in a single day. 

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On the Florida Roundup, host Tom Hudson was joined by Dean Black, chairman of the Republican Party of Duval County.

Here’s an excerpt from their conversation.  Listen to the June 12, 2020 episode of the Florida Roundup.

TOM HUDSON: Let's talk first about the kind of any assurances that the RNC or the president may have received from Jacksonville. As we know, at the heart of the friction with Charlotte and North Carolina were the guidelines of facial coverings and social distancing. The Jacksonville mayor, Lenny Curry, who has been very vocal in attracting the RNC to town, has encouraged people to wear masks in public in his community. The governor, Ron DeSantis, has extended social distancing guidelines until June 30. Are there any assurances that that kind of guidance will be dropped by the time the president comes to Jacksonville in late August? 

DEAN BLACK: Well, the assurance that we have is there we're going to do everything possible to make the event possible. But consistent with responsible governance and consistent with reasonable and prudent health precautions. And I think the guidance they were getting from North Carolina — it seems that they were looking for a way not to let it happen rather than the opposite.

So, have there been any explicit or implicit pledges on the part of public health officials or organizers or elected officials about not following social distance guidelines that are in place currently, right now, as we speak here in June? 

There are going to be guidelines in place, and already some of those guidelines are being talked about. And certainly, we will announce that in light of more fully developed information as we get closer to that time. Already, RNC Chairwoman McDaniel has discussed taking temperatures, making sure everything is sanitized. And look, here in Jacksonville we have among the lowest covered transmission rate on the face of the earth.

We have very good Republican governance here, and we expect that we will continue to employ a very responsible government. We will be careful. They will pay attention. They will be prudent. We will have sensible precautions.

But this idea that during the pandemic, which is a tragedy and we all hate it, it's worldwide. But the idea that we can all crawl under a rock and allow our economy to stop, is not credible. We can't do that. Eventually, the resulting famine would kill more people than the pandemic ever would. And likewise, history can not stop either. And history is coming to be made in Jacksonville, and it's going to be made in a responsible, prudent, and celebratory manner. 

Dean, the president will deliver his acceptance speech on the 60th anniversary of Ax Handle Saturday. This is a day when a white mob with ax handles attacked a mostly black civil rights group of protesters for sitting at a whites-only lunch counter or lunch counters throughout Jacksonville — it happened 60 years ago in 1960. What is the significance of that timing?

Difficult days in our nation's history have occurred on practically every day across America. And I think that the significance for us can be one of healing. This idea that the Republican National Convention coming to Jacksonville somehow must necessarily be divisive. I think that's erroneous. I've already said, this is only divisive if we choose to let it be so.

Jacksonville is going to be a good host to our guests from all across the nation and the world. And we need to get back to the idea that we are one family. We are one people. It wasn't all that long ago that this great spectacle of our great democracy occurred every four years, and it wasn’t divisive. And it's time that we got back to that.

And we need to let this be a thing that unifies all of us — Republican, Democrat and Independent alike. Let us celebrate the great life that is our Constitution. It is our type of government. And let us demonstrate once again to the nation, from Jacksonville and to the world, why America is the world's great hope. We can do this. We used to do it not that long ago. And we are going to let this be something that unifies us. If you want to come here and protest, by all means, protest, everyone should have their say. But let us do it in a manner that is respectful and peaceful and honors our forebearers and our Constitution.

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