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Trump cuts Florida fundraising trip in half due to Tropical Storm Isaias

The president is flying into Tampa on Friday for a fundraiser but canceled another Saturday in Doral due to the approaching storm.
President Donald Trump leaves after a roundtable on donating plasma at the American Red Cross national headquarters on Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump leaves after a roundtable on donating plasma at the American Red Cross national headquarters on Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) [ EVAN VUCCI | AP ]
Published Jul. 30, 2020
Updated Jul. 31, 2020

President Donald Trump has postponed a weekend fundraiser at his own golf resort in Doral as a tropical storm bears down on Florida.

Trump, who is still expected to land in Tampa on Friday night for a fundraiser, had planned to travel to South Florida for a Saturday event at his Trump National Doral Miami golf resort. But according to a Republican National Committee spokesman, the event was canceled this weekend because Tropical Storm Isaias is approaching Southeast Florida and the GOP did not want to take resources away from the area.

The White House told McClatchy that Trump is expected to be in Washington Saturday.

Trump will fly into Tampa International Airport on Friday afternoon and attend a campaign event with Florida sheriffs, according to a White House schedule. From there, Trump will travel to the Pelican Country Club in Belleair, where he will a COVID-19 Response and Storm Preparedness roundtable. He’ll end the day with a fundraiser at the same venue.

The postponed fundraiser is the latest setback in Florida for Trump, who last week called off the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville due to a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.

Trump’s campaign is in need of cash, as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s fundraising picks up. Invitations obtained by the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times showed that the Trump campaign was offering donors in Tampa and Miami one ticket to a reception for $5,600, two tickets and a photo to donors who gave or raised $35,000, and the photo and reception tickets, plus access to a roundtable discussion to those who contributed $100,000.

The postponement of Trump’s Doral fundraiser potential avoids — or at least delays — an awkward situation for the president and for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, as it was unclear whether the Trump campaign could legally hold the weekend fundraiser amid strict regulations intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Under Miami-Dade County’s “New Normal” coronavirus restrictions, hotel ballrooms and restaurant dining rooms are closed as South Florida continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in Florida. The state on Thursday reported a record 253 COVID-19 deaths, including 60 in Miami-Dade.

A spokeswoman for Trump Victory, the joint fundraising committee for the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, did not respond to emails and a text message sent Wednesday and Thursday asking for specifics on how the campaign intended to hold the event in compliance with county regulations. A White House spokesman said generally that Trump’s administration respects local health guidelines and plans events accordingly.

“When preparing for and carrying out any travel, White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office, to ensure plans incorporate current [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible,” spokesman Judd Deere wrote in a Wednesday email to the Miami Herald.

Jennifer Moon, the deputy Miami-Dade mayor overseeing emergency county COVID rules outlined in the “New Normal” handbook of restrictions, said the county hadn’t been asked for exemptions at the Trump National Doral Miami resort and that existing rules would apply.

Asked whether hotels are able to hold fund-raising events under current restrictions, she responded in a text message: “They can’t, unless it’s outside ... Only outside.”

A spokeswoman for Gimenez — a Republican running for Congress with Trump’s endorsement — said Wednesday the mayor’s office wasn’t aware of the fundraiser. Likewise, Doral Mayor Juan Carlos “JC” Bermudez said he was unaware of a planned fundraiser.

During his most recent flight into Miami International Airport, on July 10, Trump did not adhere to Gimenez’s executive order requiring that all people wear masks in public places. Gimenez wore a mask to greet Air Force One on the runway, and stressed at the time that Trump and all people around the president are tested regularly for COVID-19, though there are no exemptions in the emergency orders related to testing.

“It’s apparent the White House requires extraordinary measures,” Gimenez said at the time.

Six days after the presidential visit, Miami-Dade police officers issued 23 civil citations for people not wearing masks. The citations carry the possibility of a $100 fine, and were part of an enforcement blitz after county commissioners created civil penalties for Gimenez’s emergency COVID orders on July 16. Fines were possible before that, but only through an arrest.

Miami Herald staff writers Douglas Hanks and Charles Rabin, and Tampa Bay Times reporters Steve Contorno and Kathryn Varn contributed to this report.