Democrats confirm plans for nearly all-virtual convention

  • Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives at Carlette's Hideaway, a soul food restaurant, to speak with small-business owners, on June 17 in Yeadon, Pa.

    Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives at Carlette's Hideaway, a soul food restaurant, to speak with small-business owners, on June 17 in Yeadon, Pa. Associated Press

By Bill Barrow
Associated Press
Updated 6/24/2020 7:52 PM

Democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual presidential nominating convention Aug. 17-20 in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, party officials said Wednesday.

Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person, but it remains to be seen whether there will be a significant in-person audience there to see it. The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that official business, including the votes to nominate Biden and his yet-to-be-named running mate, will take place virtually, with delegates being asked not to travel to Milwaukee.


It's the latest sign of how much the COVID-19 pandemic has upended American life and the 2020 presidential election, leading Biden and the party to abandon the usual trappings of an event that draws tens of thousands of people to the host city to mark the start of the general election campaign. Not even during the Civil War or World War II did the two major parties abandon in-person conventions with crowded arenas.

Biden's campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said the drastically altered convention won't be an impediment. "Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party's nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward towards making Donald Trump a one-term president," she said, adding that Biden's campaign will continue to highlight Wisconsin as a key battleground state.

Democrats had offered strong signals before Wednesday that they'd curtail convention activities, including when Perez pushed back the original convention dates in mid-July.

The decision was "expected," Illinois delegate and state Sen. Cristina Castro said.

"While they were holding out hope that we could meet, it's just not safe," the Elgin Democrat said. "You are seeing all the COVID-19 positive cases in states like Texas and Arizona."

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State Rep. Fred Crespo added, "It's the responsible thing to do.

"There's no need to risk the health and lives of the delegates, staff and employees that would have been involved in the convention; when we can achieve our goal remotely," the Hoffman Estates Democrat said. "Typically you see a spike in the polls after the convention, but the spike is not worth it if if it leads to a spike of COVID-19 cases."

The Republican National Committee has confirmed its official business will be conducted in Charlotte. But Trump has said he plans to accept his nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, because Cooper wouldn't guarantee Republicans the ability to host a large-scale event in Charlotte's NBA arena.

• Daily Herald staff writer Marni Pyke contributed to this report.

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