JOE’S MIL­WAU­KEE SPEECH A NO-GO

Pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee’s con­ven­tion ad­dress to take place at his Delaware home

Chicago Sun-Times - - NATION | WORLD | BUSINESS - LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den will not travel to Mil­wau­kee to ac­cept his Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion on Aug. 20 be­cause the COVID-19 pan­demic is wors­en­ing and in­stead will de­liver his ac­cep­tance speech from his home state of Delaware, the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

Mean­while, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­firmed on Wed­nes­day he is con­sid­er­ing ac­cept­ing the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion from the White House, rais­ing a le­gal ques­tion of whether a po­lit­i­cal speech could be made from a govern­ment build­ing.

“I’ll prob­a­bly do mine live from the White House,” he said.

The few other speak­ers and ac­tiv­i­ties that were going to be in Mil­wau­kee dur­ing the Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion have also been scrapped, even after ex­ten­sive daily test­ing and other pre­ven­ta­tive mea­sures had been planned.

On June 24, the DNC an­nounced that much of the con­ven­tion in Mil­wau­kee was scaled back, with the plan to have Mil­wau­kee “an­chor” some events with other pro­gram­ming com­ing from “satel­lite cities, locations and land­marks across the coun­try,” the DNC said.

The an­nounce­ment on Wed­nes­day means the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion will be­come an en­tirely vir­tual event. There will be day­time cau­cus meet­ings and me­dia brief­ings on Zoom or other plat­forms with the fo­cus on a four-night prime-time “show” kick­ing off on Aug. 17, from 8 to 10 p.m. Chicago time and capped with Bi­den’s ac­cep­tance speech.

The DNC said in a state­ment the de­ci­sion was made “after on­go­ing con­sul­ta­tion with pub­lic health of­fi­cials and ex­perts — who un­der­scored the wors­en­ing coro­n­avirus pan­demic.”

The DNC did not want to risk “the health of our host com­mu­nity as well as the con­ven­tion’s pro­duc­tion teams, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, com­mu­nity part­ners, me­dia and oth­ers nec­es­sary to or­ches­trate the event.

The Repub­li­cans can­celed the Jack­sonville por­tion of their con­ven­tion be­cause of the pan­demic, with some of­fi­cial con­ven­tion busi­ness to be con­ducted in Char­lotte, North Carolina.

On Fox News Chan­nel’s “Fox & Friends,” Trump said the GOP con­ven­tion will be vir­tual with “some live speeches from dif­fer­ent locations, and I’m going to do mine on Thurs­day night, and that’ll be a lot — the First Lady’s mak­ing a speech. Nu­mer­ous peo­ple are mak­ing speeches, sen­a­tors, a lot of very, very ter­rific peo­ple.”

The White House has been con­sid­ered off-lim­its for overtly po­lit­i­cal events. In 1997, a scan­dal erupted when phone records showed Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore made about 40 fundrais­ing calls from his White House of­fice.

Richard Painter, the for­mer chief ethics lawyer in the Ge­orge W. Bush White House, said if Trump went ahead with his ac­cep­tance speech, “it would be il­le­gal for any White House staff mem­ber to as­sist with this on the White House grounds.”

He added, “Also, it would be il­le­gal for any­one in the fed­eral govern­ment to de­vote fed­eral re­sources to this,” with par­tic­i­pa­tion a po­ten­tial vi­o­la­tion of the fed­eral Hatch Act, which bans fed­eral work­ers from do­ing cer­tain po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties.

“Po­lit­i­cal events on White House grounds — never heard of it,” Painter said.

AN­DREW CA­BALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den puts on a mask after a cam­paign event last month in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware.

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