Biden won't attend Democratic convention in Milwaukee amid coronavirus concerns
Joe Biden will not accept his party's presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee later this month because of concerns over the still-raging coronavirus pandemic, Democratic officials announced Wednesday.
Instead, Biden will deliver his acceptance speech via streaming video from his home state of Delaware, the officials said, meaning the highlight of the convention will be entirely virtual.
"From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first," Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said. "That's the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that's the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House."
Perez said specifics on Biden's acceptance speech and other formalities are forthcoming.
Other speakers also won't travel to the convention grounds, opting instead to deliver virtual remarks.
"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, the Democratic convention's CEO.
The pared-down convention is still slated to take place in Milwaukee from Aug. 17-20.
However, very few aspects of the political bash will take place in-person.
According to a scheduling sheet released by the DNC, the convention will be aired between 9 and 11 every night, featuring "hundreds" of video feeds. The sheet also says a "virtual video control room" will give participants the "potential of interacting with Americans from around the country."
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers praised Biden for "putting health and safety first."
"It has never been more important for elected officials to lead by example -- that's the kind of leader Joe is, and that's the kind of president we need," Evers, a Democrat, said in a statement.
The unusual convention setup comes as the U.S. coronavirus death toll continues to soar.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 157,000 Americans had died. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates are surging across Southern and Midwestern states that rushed to reopen their economies.
Amid the pandemic resurgence, even President Donald Trump announced last month that his party's convention would also be a mostly virtual affair, though he has yet to confirm how and where he's going to deliver an acceptance speech.
The GOP convention is formally scheduled to take place in Charlotte, N.C., between Aug. 24-27, but Trump suggested Wednesday that he might give his speech from the White House.
"I think it's a beautiful setting, and we are thinking about that," he said during a call-in interview on Fox News. "It's certainly one of the alternatives."
Congressional Democrats begged to differ.
"He can't do that," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on MSNBC, adding that an acceptance speech from the White House would be an unacceptable use of public property for blatantly partisan purposes.
Even some Republicans agreed.
"Anything you do on federal property would seem to be problematic," said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican of his chamber.
Earlier this year, Trump relocated most of the GOP convention to Jacksonville, Fla., because officials in North Carolina wouldn't commit to hosting a jam-packed event during the pandemic.
But the move, which is expected to have cost millions of dollars, fell flat, as Trump announced on July 24 that he was canceling the Florida portion of the convention because of a major COVID-19 outbreak in Jacksonville.
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