Democrats will hold an almost entirely virtual presidential nomination convention in Milwaukee using live broadcasts and online streaming, party officials said Wednesday.
Joe Biden plans to accept the presidential nomination in person during the convention Aug. 17-20, but it remains to be seen if there will be a significant in-person audience there to see it. The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that official affairs, including votes to nominate Biden and his as-yet-unnamed running mate, will take place virtually, and delegates will be asked not to travel to Milwaukee.
It is the latest sign of how much the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted American life and the 2020 presidential election, prompting Biden and the party to abandon the usual pitfalls of an event that draws tens of thousands of people to the host city to mark the beginning of the general electoral campaign. Even during the Civil War or World War II, the two main parties did not abandon the conventions in person with crowded arenas.
Biden’s campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said the drastically altered convention will not be an impediment. “Vice President Biden intends to proudly accept his party’s nomination in Milwaukee and take the next step forward to make Donald Trump a one-term president,” he said, adding that the Biden campaign will continue to highlight Wisconsin as a key state on the battlefield.
Democrats had offered strong signals before Wednesday that they would curtail the activities of the convention, even when Tom Pérez, the chairman of the Democratic party, delayed the original dates of the convention in mid-July.
The new details were released the same day that Biden’s team announced its leadership team in Wisconsin, one of the three key states that helped propel Trump to a victory at the polling station four years ago. Wisconsin won by less than 23,000 votes, less than 1 percentage point.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson will serve as president of the convention, party officials said.
Perez said reducing the Democrats’ holidays is a matter of public health. He tried to contrast Trump’s push for a traditional convention in North Carolina, clashing with state Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and public health officials over details amid the pandemic.
The Republican National Committee confirmed that its official affairs will take place in Charlotte. But Trump has said he plans to accept his nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, because Cooper would not guarantee Republicans the ability to host a large-scale event in Charlotte’s NBA arena.
“Unlike this president, Joe Biden and the Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people,” said Pérez.
In addition to the events in Wisconsin, Democrats are planning other events at satellite locations across the country to broadcast as part of the convention.
Veteran producer Ricky Kirshner, who has worked at every Democratic National Convention since 1992, will lead the production of the convention, including satellite broadcasts. Kirshner has been an executive producer on the Tony Awards since 2004 and the Super Bowl halftime show since 2007; He has won nine Emmy Awards.