Gov. Ron DeSantis says Florida can host Republican National Convention

Trump is seeking another state for the convention because North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper refused to guarantee that coronavirus restrictions wouldn't affect the event.
Image: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference at Universal Studios Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Orlando, Fla.John Raoux / AP

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By Rebecca Shabad and Dareh Gregorian

WASHINGTON — Two days after President Donald Trump said he was seeking another state to host the Republican National Convention in August, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is raising his hand.

DeSantis, a Republican, was asked in a Fox News interview Thursday why he thinks Florida can hold the convention and whether he would allow a full stadium of people, as Trump has been calling for.

“The shape of the epidemic is just simply going to be different, and hopefully it's a lot better, but I think we'll be able to make those decisions about what precautions need to be taken as you get closer," DeSantis said. "But to just rule out a convention at this stage, I think, is a mistake so we've said we want to get to 'yes' on it and I think we'll be able to do it.”

He's previously mentioned Jacksonville, Orlando, and Miamias possible locales.

DeSantis' comments come after Trump said Tuesday that he would seek another state for the convention because North Carolina’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, has refused to guarantee that restrictions related to the coronavirus wouldn't affect the event. A Republican National Committee official later confirmed that the nominating part of the convention "will be held in another city."

DeSantis said that while Florida would be prepared for a second wave of coronavirus cases, the infection rate could be much lower in August, allowing for a number of safety precautions, such as testing all of the convention delegates.

“What can we do to be able to have activity in a way that's safe? To just say 'no' to everything, I don't think is going to work," he said. "So we want to be able to do it, and I think we could do it in a safe way."

The president has "got people in his administration who deal with this safety stuff every day,” he continued, adding, "Let’s be creative and figure out a way to do it.”

Trump had previously said that Cooper had to "guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance" in the arena in Charlotte, and the Republican National Committee said in a letter that it wanted a 19,000-person convention. Trump also reportedly told Cooper that he didn't want masks or social distancing requirements at the event.

The governors of Tennessee and Georgia have offered up their states as alternatives to North Carolina as well, and the RNC is in the process of scouting several cities in other states as well.

Republican officials reportedly toured Nashville on Thursday, and the state legislature passed a resolution, 70-20, saying Tennessee is “well-suited” to host the convention.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper, a Democrat, told reporters that the city has “no money available” to host the event, and also warned that coronavirus health protocols could be an issue with a gathering of that size, the Tennessean reported.

Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, said earlier this week that “Nashville is the best place in America to have a convention."