Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made his first media appearance since President Donald Trump announced the cancellation of the city’s portion of the 2020 Republican National Convention.
“President Trump made the right decision yesterday as we knew he would in the best interest of the health of the people of Jacksonville,” Curry told Fox News Friday afternoon.
Curry also made appearances on CNN and MSNBC on Friday.
Trump cited safety concerns, saying it wasn’t the right time to hold a large-scale event while coronavirus numbers in Florida continue to rise.
When asked by MSNBC if he would have made the same choice to cancel the RNC, Curry said he would've waited a bit longer.
"We've been working as a team on this. If a week or two weeks from now, the situation on the ground said to me 'This isn't safe,' I would have communicated that to the RNC and to the White House, [and] to the President, and we would have all been in agreement," Curry said.
Earlier in the week, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the security plans to host the RNC were at a “point of no return,” saying his department was lacking financial resources, officers and equipment with just over a month before the event was set to begin. Still, Curry continued to push for the event, saying he believed the city could hold the event safely, despite agreeing with Williams.
“Yes, I agree with [Sheriff Williams],” Curry said Tuesday. “However, he also communicated that he's continuing to work with the planners to configure this in a way that's safe and to get the resources that he needs.”
During his Fox News interview, Curry wasn’t clear on when he found out that the convention was no longer headed to Jacksonville. Instead, he pivoted to why the city pushed to get the convention.
“When we sought, we made the pitch for this convention, it was June 2. We had a 3% cumulative positivity rate. It dropped even in the week after that, but we always said we would watch, that we would monitor it and we would make the appropriate decision at the right time. We were communicating our case loads and our hospitalizations to the President, [and] to the White House, to the RNC,” Curry said.
Later, when asked the same question by both CNN and MSNBC, Curry admitted he found out the same day Trump made the announcment.
Curry also mentioned to Fox News that GOP delegate support was strong in recent weeks, despite coronavirus concerns and reports that several delegates would not be attending.
“The delegates were excited. Up until a few days ago, there were still major events planned all over the city. [We] expected people to be there. All the safety protocols in place - testing, we have a massive mandate in Jacksonville. We were all doing the right things and were going to do this in a safe way,” Curry said.
When asked by MSNBC is the money raised for the convention will be refunded, Curry wasn't clear.
"The host committee has the dollars to honor the obligations, money that's been spent, things that have been done, because plannings happen," Curry said. "There's no taxpayer dollars at risk. And look, the Host Committee and the donors understand. They're supportive of the president doing the right thing and making sure that safety and public health comes first."
After Trump’s announcement Thursday, the mayor and sheriff made a joint statement on Twitter, saying “As always, in Jacksonville public safety is our number one priority. President Trump has once again reaffirmed his commitment to the safety Jacksonville Florida and the people of the United States of America.”
Friday morning, City of Jacksonville Chief of Staff Jordan Elsbury told the City Council that Curry was not prepared to speak to local media on the RNC’s cancellation.
Curry is slated to speak with local media early next week, according to Mike Mendenhall of WJCT News partner The Jacksonville Daily Record.
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