“The president is obviously putting safety first and foremost, and I’m glad,” said Mr. Gruters, who had been working on convention planning earlier on Thursday before learning about Mr. Trump’s decision from the afternoon news conference. “We’re disappointed that this is not coming to Jacksonville, but Florida still loves the president, and we’re going to deliver the state.”
But Ron Klain, a former adviser to Mr. Biden who oversaw the Obama administration’s response to Ebola, said Mr. Trump’s mockery of science throughout much of the pandemic had finally caught up with him.
“I think it’s emblematic of why we’re in this mess,” Mr. Klain said. “This convention reversal really fits in with the mistakes he made in May and June, when he belittled anyone who tried to learn the lessons of the Northeast.”
Mr. Trump “went on the attack on those people,” Mr. Klain said, “and now we are paying the price.”
Mr. Trump made his announcement a day after the City Council drafted an emergency ordinance that would have created a convention zone and an area for protesters, and dealt with extended hours for alcohol sales, music and fireworks, among other things. But those measures were not certain to pass, given concerns raised earlier in the week by Mike Williams, the sheriff of Duval County — which encompasses Jacksonville — about insufficient resources for public safety.
“We can’t pull it off,” Mr. Williams told reporters.
Among those pleased with the president’s decision was W.C. Gentry, a Republican lawyer in Jacksonville who had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a downtown church and group of small business owners trying to stop the convention.
“This is great news for our city,” he said. “It would have created the largest super-spreader event in history.”
Opposition to the convention began to cascade this week, Mr. Gentry said, after Sheriff Williams issued his warning and the City Council president, Tommy Hazouri, raised concerns about how much the event would cost Jacksonville.