Former Vice President Joe Biden will not travel to Milwaukee to accept his Democratic nomination on Aug. 20 because the COVID-19 pandemic is worsening and instead will deliver his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware, the Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump confirmed on Wednesday he is considering accepting the Republican nomination from the White House, raising a legal question of whether a political speech could be made from a government building.
“I’ll probably do mine live from the White House,” he said.
The few other speakers and activities that were going to be in Milwaukee during the Democratic National Convention have also been scrapped, even after extensive daily testing and other preventative measures had been planned.
On June 24, the DNC announced that much of the convention in Milwaukee was scaled back, with the plan to have Milwaukee “anchor” some events with other programming coming from “satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country,” the DNC said.
The announcement on Wednesday means the Democratic convention will become an entirely virtual event. There will be daytime caucus meetings and media briefings on Zoom or other platforms with the focus on a four-night prime time “show” kicking off on Aug. 17, from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Chicago time and capped with Biden’s acceptance speech.
The DNC said in a statement the decision was made “after ongoing consultation with public health officials and experts — who underscored the worsening coronavirus pandemic.”
The DNC did not want to risk “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.
The Republicans canceled the Jacksonville portion of their convention because of the pandemic, with some official convention business to be conducted in Charlotte, N.C
On FOX News Channel’s FOX & Friends, Trump said the GOP convention will be virtual with “some live speeches from different locations, and I’m going to do mine on Thursday night, and that’ll be a lot — the First Lady’s making a speech. Numerous people are making speeches, senators, a lot of very, very terrific people.”
The White House has been considered off-limits for overtly political events. In 1997, a scandal erupted when phone records showed Vice President Al Gore made about 40 fund raising calls from his White House office.
Richard Painter, the former chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House, said if Trump went ahead with his acceptance speech, “it would be illegal for any White House staff member to assist with this on the White House grounds.”
He added, “Also, it would be illegal for anyone in the federal government to devote federal resources to this,” with participation a potential violation of the federal Hatch Act, which bans federal workers from doing certain political activities.
“Political events on White House grounds — never heard of it,” Painter said.