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Biden won’t go to Milwaukee to accept Democratic nomination

Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the Colonial Early Education Program at the Colwyck Training Center, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in New Castle, Del.
Former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the Colonial Early Education Program at the Colwyck Training Center, Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in New Castle, Del.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:42 AM CDT
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MILWAUKEE (AP) - Joe Biden will not travel to Milwaukee to accept the Democratic presidential nomination because of concerns over the coronavirus, party officials said Wednesday, signaling a move to a convention that essentially has become entirely virtual.

It is the latest example of the pandemic’s sweeping effects on the 2020 presidential election and the latest blow to traditional party nominating conventions that historically have marked the start of fall general election campaigns.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” said Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez. “We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that’s the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House.”

Neither the Biden campaign nor DNC officials offered details about how Biden might accept the nomination, which even in the pandemic could be a made-for-screen event that reaches tens of millions of voters via television and online.

A DNC official said all speakers and presenters for the Aug. 17-24 convention are now expected to speak from remote locations.

President Donald Trump already had abandoned plans to accept the Republican nomination in person. But like Biden, he has not yet announced what he will do for his convention.

Biden and Democrats for months have moved toward a virtual convention, first by delaying the convention from its original mid-July date to the week before Republicans’ scheduled convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

DNC officials later authorized organizers to plan for virtual proceedings, then added an explicit call for delegates not to travel to Milwaukee. More than 4,000 delegates already were casting mail ballots for Biden’s nomination and a platform that had been written and approved in meetings conducted online. But until Wednesday, it was expected that Biden and his running mate would speak from Milwaukee.

Biden is in the final days of deciding on a vice president, who he has said will be a woman.

Trump was far more reluctant than Biden to alter his convention plans, as he sought to downplay the pandemic’s significance and push the country to return to normal operations. Trump jousted with North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, because Cooper wouldn’t guarantee the president that he’d lift restrictions on large public gatherings so that Trump could pack Charlotte’s NBA arena.

Trump then said he’d travel to Jacksonville, Florida, to make his address, a decision welcomed at the time by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Florida has since seen its COVID-19 cases spike, part of a national trend that led Trump to yield to public health experts and cancel the event.

On Wednesday, Trump mused about potentially making his acceptance speech from the White House.

MILWAUKEE, WI—After ongoing consultation with public health officials and experts—who underscored the worsening coronavirus pandemic—the Democratic National Convention Committee announced today speakers for the 2020 Democratic National Convention will no longer travel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in order to prevent risking the health of our host community as well as the convention’s production teams, security officials, community partners, media and others necessary to orchestrate the event.

In accordance with this guidance, Vice President Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee and will instead address the nation and accept the Democratic nomination from his home state of Delaware. Details about the location of the speech will be released at a later time. Other speakers who had been planning to come to Milwaukee will not travel to the city.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first. We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that’s the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez.

Democrats have been working for months to build flexible plans that modernize and transform the convention experience for delegates and viewers across the country. From the start of the pandemic, contingencies were put in place for a successful convention that would ensure public health was protected. Today’s announcement represents a small adjustment to the overall planning, as the majority of speeches and segments were already taking place in locations across the country. Democrats will offer four nights of programming, which will include a mix of both pre-recorded segments and live broadcasts from locations across the country.

“2020 will always be remembered as a year of once-in-a-lifetime challenges and changes—but it will also be remembered as a time when Americans were their most compassionate and resilient selves. While we wish we could move forward with welcoming the world to beautiful Milwaukee in two weeks, we recognize protecting the health of our host community and everyone involved with this convention must be paramount,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

Scheduled to kick off in less than two weeks, the Democratic National Convention will air for two hours each night, 9:00-11:00pm ET, from August 17-20, 2020. A custom virtual video control room has been designed to take in hundreds of feeds from around the country, including the potential of interacting with Americans from around the country.

“This convention will look different than any previous convention in history. It will reach more people than ever before, and truly be a convention across America for all Americans, regardless of which party you belong to or who you’ve voted for in previous elections. This “unconventional” convention will launch Joe Biden to victory in November,” Solmonese added.

In order to ensure that the convention will reach viewers wherever they are, convention officials have been working with partners to house convention content on over a dozen platforms, in addition to traditional broadcasts. The official live stream for the 2020 Democratic Convention will be hosted on DemConvention.com, where viewers can also find the full convention schedule, and a digital tool kit to get involved.

The Democratic National Convention Committee will work with the Network Pool and Congressional Press Galleries to establish pooled media opportunities to cover the program. As in past conventions, a feed of convention proceedings will be available at no cost for media and accessible in multiple formats, including via satellite and embeddable livestream. The campaign and convention team will also provide virtual coverage opportunities, including remote press briefings and interviews.

Democratic National Convention Statement

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