The coronavirus has already upended the traditional campaign cycle – Reuters
Joe Biden announced he will no longer travel to Wisconsin to accept the Democratic presidential nomination during the party’s national convention this month because of coronavirus concerns.
Instead, Mr Biden, 77, will accept the nomination and deliver a national address from his home state of Delaware.
It means the Democratic convention, usually a huge jamboree designed to boost party morale and give maximum media exposure to the presidential candidate, will be almost entirely virtual.
The even, which runs from August 17 – 20, had originally been intended to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a key swing state which Donald Trump narrowly won in 2016 and Mr Biden hopes to retake in November.
It comes hours after Mr Trump suggested that he may deliver his own Republican nomination acceptance speech later this month from the White House.
Party conventions are usually designed to maximise attendance and press coverage – Jim Watson /AFP
We are thinking about doing it from the White House because there’s no movement,” the US president told Fox News. “It’s easy, and I think it’s a beautiful setting and we are thinking about that. It’s certainly one of the alternatives. It’s the easiest alternative, I think it’s a beautiful alternative.”
However the proposal has already received push back from members of Mr Trump’s own party, who questioned the legality of using the White House for party political purposes.
Thune: “Is that even legal? I assume that’s not something that you could do. I assume there’s some Hatch Act issues or something there. I don’t know the answer to that.”
Thune added: “I think anything you do on federal property would seem to be problematic.” https://t.co/jk916KC6qK
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 5, 2020
The last-minute changes are the latest set back for the parties traditional campaigning on account of the pandemic. The presidential conventions are typically made-for-television affairs featuring often-raucous speeches in front of thousands of the party faithful.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it took the decision in order to protect Milwaukee residents as well as the vast number of people needed to stage a national convention.
The event will feature two hours of prime-time programming each night with feeds from around the country, the DNC said.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” said Tom Perez, the DNC Chairman.
The Republican convention was initially set for Charlotte, North Carolina, before Mr Trump moved his speech – the crowning event of the week-long festivities – to Jacksonville, Florida in the hope of securing a larger crowd.
But a surge of coronavirus cases in Florida prompted the president to later cancel those plans.
Only one night of the convention, a “nomination night,” will take place in Charlotte, Mr Trump told Fox News on Wednesday.
The rest of the convention, including Mr Trump’s speech, will be virtual and include live speeches from different locations.