Thursday, July 23, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He cast himself as the hero of his convention debacle.

In early June, Trump made the sudden decision to move the Republican National Convention—a massive event years in the planning—from North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida. He bitterly attacked the governor of North Carolina, a Democrat, for refusing to guarantee months in advance that the planned gathering of some 50,000 attendees in a single confined space would be allowed under public health rules.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic raging out of control in Florida, it wasn't clear if anyone was willing to actually attend it. At least half a dozen sitting Republican senators were refusing to show up in person. Even the hastily-assembled Jacksonville host committee was uneasy. As one member told Politico, "Everyone thought it was foolish. COVID is spiking and we’re going to have this event in Florida." 

Today, Trump bowed to the inevitable and canceled the rest of the convention. In making the announcement, he claimed that he was overruling his political advisors for the public good. In reality, his political team has been desperate to get Trump to engage more seriously with the problem.

It may be too late to save Trump's political fortunes in Florida, though. A poll released today—before he abruptly announced the cancellation—showed that Florida residents thought it was unsafe to hold the convention in Jacksonville by a 62%-34% margin.

That same poll showed Biden beating Trump by 13% in Florida, which is normally decided by razor-thin margins in presidential elections.

So what?

  • Even if you accept Trump's claim that he's handled this pandemic perfectly, this was still a pretty big and obvious screw-up.