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Gov. DeSantis Approves Of Outdoor RNC Possibilities As Safe Option

Governor Ron DeSantis held a media conference at the JaxPort Administrative offices Thursday afternoon.
Governor Ron DeSantis held a media conference at the JaxPort Administrative offices Thursday afternoon.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says holding the Republican National Convention in an outdoor Jacksonville venue would be a safe option. 

“Safety is not, it's not negotiable,” DeSantis said. “It's going to be a safe environment, and I think you look at someplace like you know, like the Daily’s pavilion, especially with Florida weather. I think you could do that in a way that'd be very safe.”

DeSantis was referring to the Daily’s Place amphitheatre at the sports complex. 

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Republican officials were looking at outside venues, such as TIAA Bank Field and 121 Financial Ballpark for Jacksonville’s portion of RNC events. 

At a news conference in Jacksonville Thursday afternoon, DeSantis said his office hasn’t received any official plans to confirm that the convention would be held indoors, so he assumed that an outdoor venue was always a possibility. 

When Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry announced that Jacksonville would be hosting a portion of the RNC in a video, he did so inside of VyStar Veteran’s Memorial Arena, which seats up to 15,000 people. 

DeSantis also said comfort was a key factor when deciding the location.

“Delegates need to be comfortable going into these places and so I think that they will be,” DeSantis said of the prospect of the event taking place outside. 

The governor also noted that he has taken a hands-off approach to the August event.

“I'm not involved. It's more of the city and the RNC than me,” DeSantis said. 

On Wednesday, a Jacksonville attorney filed a lawsuit against the city, the RNC and the Trump campaign, stating the convention coming during the pandemic would be a “nuisance” and dangerous to public health.

The lawsuit is aiming to shrink the size of the convention to just 2,500 people, with several social distancing measures and masks requirements.

President Trump initially moved the nomination portion of the RNC to Jacksonville because North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could not guarantee that there would be a fully-packed convention without social distancing.

The president, however, has shifted language recently, saying earlier this week that his team is remaining “flexible” as Florida continues to see high coronavirus case numbers.

Sky Lebron can be reached at slebron@wjct.org, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter at @SkylerLebron.

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