GOP Sets Restrictions On RNC Attendance To Hold A ‘Safe’ Convention

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the 6th Annual Women Rule Summit in Washington, DC on December 11, 2018. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
July 16, 2020 10:50 a.m.
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GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel sent a letter to party delegates on Thursday informing them that the upcoming Republican National Convention (RNC) in Jacksonville, Florida would be downsized as a protective measure against COVID-19.

The GOP’s latest move comes as Florida experiences an explosion in coronavirus cases.

In the letter, McDaniel acknowledged that the purpose of moving the main events of the RNC from Charlotte, North Carolina to Jacksonville was so that the convention could be held at full capacity, per President Donald Trump’s demand.

“When we made these changes, we had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed,” the party leader wrote. “However, adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines.”

McDaniel promised that the party would still hold a “fantastic” convention but in “a safe and responsible manner.”

The new rules mandate that for the first three days of the event, which begins on August 24, only regular delegates will be allowed to enter the convention venue at the VyStar Arena. Guests and alternate delegates won’t be admitted until the last day on August 27, when Trump gives his acceptance speech after being formally renominated.

McDaniel stated that the party would use both indoor and outdoor venues for the convention.

Additionally, RNC officials will implement “a variety of health protocols” at the event, according to the GOP leader.

“This plan includes but is not limited to on-site temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing,” she wrote.

Fears of a potential COVID-19 outbreak caused by the large convention have only grown since Florida began suffering massive spikes in cases recently. Prior to McDaniel’s announcement, multiple Republican lawmakers had stated that they would not be attending the event.

Read McDaniel’s full letter:

Dear Members,

I want to thank you for your patience during these unprecedented times as we work to put on a safe and exciting convention, and for the immense support you continue to provide to the President, RNC, and Republicans throughout the country.

When North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper began to play politics with our convention earlier this year, we made the decision to move the celebratory aspect of the event to Jacksonville, Florida, while keeping the formal business of the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. At the time, the RNC Executive Committee unanimously approved Rule 37(e) procedures that outline how the official business will take place in Charlotte, limiting the number of delegates necessary to be present there to formally re-nominate the president and vice-president.

When we made these changes, we had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed. However, 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. 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.

Following President Trump’s outstanding speech at Mount Rushmore, momentum continues to be on our side. The festivities in Jacksonville are only going to build upon the incredible energy behind President Trump’s campaign, and help propel him to victory in November.

Below is an update on how we expect the Jacksonville convention celebration to proceed, along with some changes we are implementing:

  • The convention celebration in Jacksonville will still occur from Monday, August 24th through Thursday, August 27th.
  • Admittance to the convention venue for the first three days of the convention celebration in Jacksonville (August 24, 25, 26) will be limited to regular delegates only. For the final day (Thursday, August 27) when President Trump will publicly accept the nomination, we plan that each delegate, their guest, and alternate delegates will be permitted to attend.
  • We continue to plan to host programming each day leading up to President Donald Trump’s speech accepting the nomination on Thursday, August 27th. We expect there to be evening programming each night, along with some daytime events and festivities. We plan to utilize a number of indoor and outdoor venues in this multi-block radius of Jacksonville, including the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, TIAA Bank Field, Daily’s Place Amphitheater, 121 Financial Ballpark, and several others.
  • We plan to implement a variety of health protocols in order to ensure a safe event. This plan includes but is not limited to on-site temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing.

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. We are looking forward to a fantastic week in Jacksonville as we celebrate this historic moment in the life of our nation.

Thank you again for your continued support for President Trump, the Republican National Committee, and Republican candidates everywhere. Please feel free to share this guidance with your local state party leadership, along with convention delegates and alternates.


Ronna McDaniel

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