By Joseph Ax and Doina Chiacu
Aug 5 – Former Vice President Joe Biden will not travel to Wisconsin to accept the Democratic U.S. presidential nomination during the party’s national convention this month because of coronavirus concerns, party officials said on Wednesday.
The decision to pull Biden and other speakers from Milwaukee, where Democrats had once planned to hold a multiday nominating convention in person, ensures the event from Aug. 17-20 will be almost entirely virtual. Biden will accept the nomination and deliver a national address from his home state of Delaware, the Democratic Party said.
Separately, Republican President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would “probably” deliver his nomination acceptance speech later this month from the White House.
The last-minute changes are the latest reminder of how the pandemic has wreaked havoc on traditional campaigning ahead of the country’s Nov. 3 elections. The presidential conventions are typically made-for-television affairs featuring often-raucous speeches in front of thousands of the party faithful.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) said the decision was made to protect Milwaukee residents as well as the vast number of people needed to stage a national convention.
The event will feature two hours of prime-time programming each night with feeds from around the country, the DNC said.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
The Republican convention was initially set for Charlotte, North Carolina, before Trump moved part of the festivities to Jacksonville, Florida, after North Carolina’s governor warned he might not permit a huge crowd.
But a surge of coronavirus cases in Florida prompted Trump to cancel those plans. Only one night of the convention, a “nomination night,” will take place in Charlotte, Trump said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday.
Trump said the bulk of the convention would be virtual and include live speeches from different locations, including his address on Aug. 27. (Reporting by Joseph Ax and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Colleen Jenkins)