Biden won't travel to Milwaukee to accept presidential nomination as coronavirus scuttles both political conventions

·White House Correspondent
·4 min read

Citing health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, former Vice President Joe Biden will not be accepting the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in Wisconsin this month, the Democratic National Committee announced Wednesday.

“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,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, on July 28. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
Former Vice President Joe Biden at a campaign event in Wilmington, Del., on July 28. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Democratic National Convention was originally scheduled to take place in Milwaukee from Aug. 17 to 20, but due to the pandemic, the party announced in late June that the event would largely be held virtually. On Wednesday, the DNC made clear that even Biden would not attend in person and will instead accept the nomination in his home state of Delaware. The committee said the decision was reached after “ongoing consultation with public health officials and experts — who underscored the worsening coronavirus pandemic.”

After several states eased restrictions meant to slow the spread of the virus, the country experienced a wave of new coronavirus cases nationwide. According to data released by local officials, Milwaukee County saw a spike in cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, late last month.

Like Biden, President Trump does not plan to accept his nomination at the Republican National Convention, which is scheduled from Aug. 24 to 27.

Biden’s decision to forgo traveling to Milwaukee means this year will be the first time in modern history that both candidates from the two major political parties will not attend a convention. In 1944, at the tail end of World War II, Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his fourth acceptance speech from a Pacific coast naval base. The last Republican nominee to deliver an acceptance speech at a location other than the site of the convention was Wendell Willkie, who did so from his hometown of Ellwood, Ind., in 1940.

In the statement announcing Biden’s plans, Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic convention, described this as “a year of once-in-a-lifetime challenges and changes.” The announcement noted that the Democratic Party has “been working for months to build flexible plans that modernize and transform the convention experience for delegates and viewers across the country.”

“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,” the statement said.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
President Trump at a news conference in the White House on Tuesday. (Chris Kleponis/Polaris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump and the Republican Party were hesitant to give up on plans for a more traditional convention. The RNC was initially scheduled to take place in Charlotte, N.C., but Trump moved the bulk of the convention to Jacksonville, Fla., after North Carolina’s Democratic governor said the event would need to be scaled down due to coronavirus concerns. On July 23, Trump announced that the portion of the events planned for Florida would be scrapped due to a recent “flare-up” of the virus there. Delegates will still travel to North Carolina to formally nominate him. In announcing the decision to cancel the Jacksonville portions of the convention, Trump said he would “still do a convention speech in a different form.” During a telephone interview with the conservative Fox News channel’s morning show “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday, Trump confirmed that he is considering delivering his acceptance speech from the White House.

“It’s easy, and I think it’s a beautiful setting, and we are thinking about that. It’s certainly one of the alternatives,” he said. “It’s the easiest alternative; I think it’s a beautiful alternative. I love the building. I’m there right now. I spend a lot of time here.”

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