The 2020 presidential nominating conventions will look little like the political mega-events we’ve seen in this country for the past few decades.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has made the notion of huge stadiums full of cheering supporters plus countless meetings, rallies and after parties, unadvisable under U.S. public health guidelines.
Now, for both parties, rejiggering their conventions has been a significant challenge.Democrats have decided to take a largely virtual approach to their party’s event after initially pushing it from July into August.
Republicans, led by urging from President Trump, hoped to hold as close to a normal convention as possible. So much so that they changed the location of the Republican National Convention celebrations from Charlotte, N.C., to Jacksonville, Fla. The original site in Charlotte refused to go along with Trump’s demands for a crowded large-scale event. So Republicans searched for a city that would disregard health guidance and let thousands of people from all over the country gather in one place. They ultimately chose Jacksonville largely because the city’s political leadership aligns with Trump.
But that was all back in mid-June. When the RNC chose Florida, coronavirus cases in the state were much lower. Since then, Florida’s case numbers have surged, setting record highs and complicating things for those planning the event.
After many iterations, Republicans announced this week that they’ll hold some sort of scaled-back convention in Jacksonville, with a mix of indoor and outdoor events.
The whole saga has been a tug of war between the Trump team’s desire to get Trump in front of a large crowd of supporters, where he politically thrives, and the public health restrictions designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
On this episode of the“Can He Do That?” podcast, reporter Michael Scherer helps tackle some big questions around this year’s conventions: Why has Trump been so adamant about holding a convention that’s at least partially in person, amid a pandemic? Why might his campaign team view the convention moment as so critical this election cycle? Plus, if significantly pared down or virtual versions of conventions can work just fine, what might the parties learn for the future of these events?
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