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Trump announces he's canceling Jacksonville portion of GOP convention

Trump calls off GOP convention in Jacksonville
Trump calls off GOP convention in Jacksonvill... 01:17

Washington — President Trump announced Thursday he's canceling the Jacksonville, Florida, portion of the Republican National Convention next month, citing the raging coronavirus crisis.

Speaking from the White House briefing room, Mr. Trump said delegates will formally nominate him in Charlotte, North Carolina, but he did not announce where his speech will take place. Much of the convention had already been moved from its original site in Charlotte to Jacksonville. 

But coronavirus cases continue to climb in Florida, which on Thursday reported 173 deaths, a daily record for the state. 

"It's just not the right time for that," the president said of having a large Republican gathering in Florida. Mr. Trump said he felt it was wrong to have people travel to a COVID hot spot for the convention. "We didn't want to take any chances," he told reporters. 

"I care deeply about the people of Florida and everywhere else frankly in this country and even in the world. Would be coming into the state and I don't want to do anything to upset it, they'll be doing very well," the president said. 

Bill Stepien, the new chairman of the Trump campaign, said the president is "leading by example." 

"The president has built the most innovative political campaign in history and will provide exciting, informative, and enthusiastic programming so Republicans can celebrate the re-nomination of President Trump and Vice President Pence," Stepien said. "We look forward to celebrating the historic achievements of the administration and exposing what Joe Biden is — the empty vessel, Trojan Horse candidate used by the extreme left to advance their radical agenda."

The Jacksonville 2020 Host Committee noted the rise in number of COVID-19 cases in Florida and said the president and RNC "have demonstrated great concern for the safety of all Floridians." 

The president, who has long expressed his hopes for a big convention and the return of his rallies, offered a different message when he resurrected his coronavirus briefings on Tuesday — that the crisis would "probably unfortunately get worse before it gets better."

Meanwhile, Senate Republicans and the White House continue to hammer out the next coronavirus relief package. Senate Republicans and the White House have been engaged in negotiations this week on a fifth legislative package and are inching closer to a final deal. 

But the GOP and Trump administration have yet to begin talks with Democrats. Mr. Trump said Thursday he told Republicans to drop the push for a payroll tax cut, saying Democrats would never go for it and they need their votes. 

Looming over lawmakers is the upcoming expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits. Republicans say the additional $600 for Americans who receive unemployment benefits discourages a return to work if the benefits amount to more than wages. But Democrats say the enhanced benefits are crucial as Americans who are out of work face another month of not being able to pay bills and rent.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House and Senate Republicans reached a "fundamental agreement," though it's unclear when the text of the relief package will be revealed. The proposal is expected to include another round of direct payments to Americans as well as $105 billion for education, $70 billion of which would go toward K-12 schools, $30 billion for colleges and universities and $5 billion for states to use at their discretion.

On a lighter note, the president said he'll throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium in August. That announcement comes the same day Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has not been invited to the podium for the president's briefings so far this week, threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. 

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