Mr. Trump’s advisers have urged him to treat the virus as if he were a governor overseeing the threat of a hurricane — offering gravitas and taking the situation seriously, but assuring voters that the storm will pass.
Until this week, Mr. Trump’s performance had been exactly the opposite.
In early June, Mr. Trump forced the Republican National Committee to walk away from Charlotte because North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would not guarantee him that there would not be health restrictions. That potentially meant the president would not get the type of adoring crowds he would have had before the virus struck.
“Would have showcased beautiful North Carolina to the World, and brought in hundreds of millions of dollars, and jobs, for the State,” Mr. Trump tweeted on June 2. “Because of” Mr. Cooper, he added, “we are now forced to seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention.”
Aides to Mr. Cooper strenuously denied that he had done anything other than ask Republicans for a plan to keep people safe, and said that he had suggested a scaled-down event. “We can’t do social distancing,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Cooper in one of their calls, according to people briefed on the discussion, which the R.N.C. followed up with a letter demanding a full convention.
Democrats have announced they are drastically cutting back their convention in Milwaukee, Wis., over safety concerns, and said last month they would hold an almost entirely virtual convention. (Mr. Trump’s private company moved to trademark the word “tele-rally” in a filing last week.)
But Mr. Trump was adamant about having his celebration. He turned to a Republican ally, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who had rallied around Mr. Trump’s push to reopen states and who is seen as a future presidential candidate, to host the convention he craved.
But officials repeatedly warned Mr. Trump that the outbreak was getting worse. In Florida, there were 10,239 new cases on Thursday. There were a reported 173 deaths, a record number.