Politics

GOP convention goes outdoors, six senators skip event

Some are claiming virus concerns. Not likely.

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On Thursday, Republicans involved in planning the August convention in Jacksonville told the press that outdoor locales in the close vicinity of the VyStar Arena, where the convention will be held, are being considered for the staging of the larger public aspects of the convention. The Republican National Convention is scheduled to kick off on August 24th.

During his 2016 primary and general election campaigns, President Donald Trump used outdoor venues with great success. The image of the Trump plane swooping down over crowds before the event, as the theme from the film “Air Force One” filled the space, gave the event and the campaign itself gravitas and glamour.

GOP officials are looking into the necessary logistics for holding an outdoor convention. President Trump has been briefed and a final determination on specific locations could be made soon. The president has privately told close associates and aides he would prefer outdoor events. Though Jacksonville in August promises to be scorching hot, Republican National Convention staff plan to compensate for that by offering cold bottled water and small fans to the crowds and by cooling off the area with large state-of-the-art cooling systems.

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Locations that Republicans have looked at include the 121 Financial Ballpark, which can hold 11,000 people, and the TIAA Bank Field, a 65,000-seat stadium that’s the home field to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both venues are a short walk from the VyStar arena, which seats around 15,000 people.

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In related news, six GOP senators will not attend the Republican Convention. One seems to have a genuine concern over coronavirus. The others are probably dodging the event to put distance between themselves and the president.

On Thursday, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who is set to retire at the end of the year, said he would not attend the convention and claimed he had scheduling conflicts and virus concerns. He is likely lying. He’s retiring and probably just doesn’t want to go through the hassle of a truncated national convention.

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Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was the first senator to say he would not attend the convention due to coronavirus concerns. Grassley is usually a straight shooter. His announcement was followed by GOP Senators Lamar Alexander, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Mitt Romney, and Roberts.

Romney and Murkowski are obvious no shows because they are not on good terms with the president or the party.

Alexander’s office stated the senator wanted to give others a chance to be delegates and was worried over the virus, possibly true, though he’s also retiring. Collins has a tough reelection fight in a Democrat state and can’t be seen as too Republican.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was asked about the absence from the event of six of his Republican colleagues: “I think the convention is a challenging situation and a number of my colleagues have announced that they aren’t going to attend. We have to wait and see how it looks in late August to see whether or not we can convene that many people.”

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