MILWAUKEE – Organizers upended the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, as they told state delegations not to travel to Milwaukee, moved the convention to a smaller venue and added satellite events around the country.

But even as Democrats downsize their convention – in contrast to what Republicans are doing – they say former Vice President Joe Biden will still formally accept the nomination in Milwaukee.

“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,” Biden campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon said in a statement. “The city of Milwaukee has been an incredible partner and we are committed to highlighting Wisconsin as a key battleground state at our convention this August.”

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says he’s confident the military will help him if Donald Trump doesn’t accept the election results in November.

The decision to overhaul plans for the August 17-20 convention came after consulting with public health officials about the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.

The moves by the Democrats stand in stark contrast to the Republicans, who shifted their main convention events from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, after North Carolina officials couldn’t promise that social distancing rules would not be in effect.

President Donald Trump plans to accept the renomination in front of large crowds expected to attend the Aug. 24-27 event.

Different approaches: Faced with coronavirus, Republican and Democratic leaders overhaul convention plans

For the Democrats, delegates will cast votes remotely for the presidential nomination in what is shaping up to be a scaled-back and increasingly virtual event.    

Organizers also announced that large-scale events, such as a welcome reception for delegates and media and a party for volunteers, are canceled due to coronavirus concerns as cases surge in the U.S.

“Leadership means being able to adapt to any situation,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “That’s exactly what we’ve done with our convention. Unlike this president, Joe Biden and Democrats are committed to protecting the health and safety of the American people.”

He also praised convention organizers and Milwaukee officials for their handling of planning a major event amid a pandemic.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way our team has organized and mobilized to get out the vote and ensure a successful convention anchored in Wisconsin, and I’m grateful for the extraordinary leadership of our partners in the city of Milwaukee,” Perez said.

Organizers on Wednesday also announced that Fiserv Forum will no longer serve as the centerpiece of the convention, as all event proceedings will move from the Bucks’ home in downtown Milwaukee to the Wisconsin Center. While Biden is expected to travel to Milwaukee, state delegations are being told that they should not plan to come to town for the event.

The convention, which was previously pushed back from July to August, was initially expected to draw 50,000 visitors to Milwaukee this summer. Clearly the number of attendees will now be far smaller. 

Convention planners said that Milwaukee, as the host city, will still anchor the events for the week, but added that programming will include live broadcasts and content from other “satellite cities, locations and landmarks across the country.”

Democrats are attempting to honor their commitment to hold as much of the event in Milwaukee as possible, given the unpredictable nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

Convention organizers on Wednesday also said:

  • State delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely.

  • A process is being developed to ensure all delegates can cast their votes remotely on the presidential nomination and all other convention matters.

  • Milwaukee is set to anchor events every night from August 17-20, but programming will now include live broadcast and content from “other satellite cities, locations and landmarks” across the United States.

  • DNC standing committee meetings, which are tentatively set for the last week of July, will also take place virtually.

  • U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi will serve as permanent chair of the convention, and will preside over all official convention business.

  • The convention program, including satellite broadcasts, will be led by Emmy Award-winning producer Ricky Kirschner.

In addition, Democrats are consulting with epidemiologists and infectious disease experts W. Ian Lipkin, Director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, and Larry Brilliant, a former professor of epidemiology.

Earlier this month, Perez said he didn’t know how many delegates would attend the party’s national convention in Milwaukee, but he reaffirmed Democrats will stage their event in Wisconsin’s largest city , despite uncertainty caused by the coronavirus.

The team overseeing the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee already had maximum authority to change the format, size and dates of the event under a sweeping resolution that party insiders approved in May.

“Everything is on the line this November, which is why we must find creative and forward-looking ways to organize, mobilize, and unite our party around our shared values at the convention so that we can launch Joe Biden to victory this fall,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel contributed to this report.

Contact Mary Spicuzza at (414) 224-2324 or mary.spicuzza@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MSpicuzzaMJS.

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Democratic convention: Joe Biden to accept nomination at smaller event



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