Five Republican senators will skip the Republican National Convention (RNC) next month in Jacksonville, Florida, where the party is expected to renominate President Donald Trump.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa)—the oldest Republican in the Senate, announced on Monday, July 7, that he would not attend the convention, citing the CCP Virus (coronavirus) pandemic, The Hill reported.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring at the end of the year, is the second Republican senator to inform on Tuesday that he would skip the event. His office said the senator is saving delegate spots for people who have not previously gone to a party convention.

An aide for Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the senator has no plan to travel to Jacksonville, but noted that this is not a change because Collins has never attended national conventions in the years that she is up for election.

Collins, a moderate in her party, has recently signaled that she will not campaign against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, a former colleague in the Senate. In 2016, Collins said publicly that she would not be voting for President Trump. 

Aids for Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also confirmed that they would not be present at the event.

Both senators have had clashes with President Trump. Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to impeach the president earlier this year, while Murkowski spoke out last month against the president’s handling of the racial injustice protests and against his moral leadership.

The Republican National Committee last month decided to move the main events, including President Trump’s acceptance speech, from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, after failing to receive assurances from North Carolina’s Democratic governor about being allowed to proceed with plans for the large event, according to The Washington Post.

Several Republican senators have not yet made the decision to attend the convention because of the threat from the virus pandemic. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said last week that he wanted to know “what kind of social distancing, what kind of precautions are being taken,” while Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said last month that he wanted to “see what the situation is” on the CCP Virus before making a decision.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), an honorary co-chair of the convention, “has every intention of attending” the gathering, his spokesman David Popp said in a statement on Tuesday.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who was elected to the Senate in 2018, also plans to attend the event. In a tweet on Tuesday, he said, “I campaigned with President Trump in 2018—where he helped expand our Senate majority—and touted his policies to Make America Great Again. I’ll be at the @GOPconvention in Jacksonville with @realDonaldTrump where we will kick off the 2020 campaign to #KeepAmericaGreat!”

A spokesman for Florida Sen. Rick Scott said the senator also plans to attend the convention.

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