Biden cites virus in decision not to accept Democratic nomination in person

Organizers announce Joe Biden will not be attending the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee

A general view of the Wisconsin Center ahead of the Democratic National Convention on August 05, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The 2020 Democratic National Convention, scheduled to take place on August 17-20 in Milwaukee will not feature the presidential candidate on-site to make his acceptance speech.

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Joe Biden will not attend the event, and neither will the other speakers according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal. Concerns over the continuing spread of the deadly coronavirus have forced Democrats to shift to virtual proceedings.

The decision was to “in order to prevent risking 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,” says a statement from official organizers, the MJS reports.

Biden will reportedly accept the party’s nomination from his home state of Delaware.

Democratic leaders say the decision to move to a virtual platform is necessary given the risks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first. We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that’s the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House,” says Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez.

DNC Announces That Convention Will Not Include Biden, Live Speakers Due To COVID-19
A general view of the Wisconsin Center ahead of the Democratic National Convention on August 05, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

The trip to the convention would have been Biden’s first visit to the midwestern state. The former vice president has only attended virtual events in Wisconsin since the year began. The decision could raise the stakes in the fall with both Biden and President Donald Trump targeting Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes.

Trump Victory Spokesperson Anna Kelly says “Joe Biden is repeating the mistakes from the 2016 campaign. The fact remains that President Donald Trump has delivered on his promises to Wisconsin voters and he will carry the state again in November.”

According to the MSJ, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton campaigned in Wisconsin during the primaries but skipped the region during the general election, which political experts believe contributed to her loss in 2016.

The New York Times reports Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 with 47.2% of the votes. Clinton came in second with 46.5%. Back in 2012, Barack Obama won the state by 6.9 percentage points.

Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Makes Economic Address In Wilmington, Delaware
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech at the William Hicks Anderson Community Center, on July 28, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. Biden addressed the fourth component of his Build Back Better economic recovery plan for working families, how his plan will address systemic racism and advance racial economic equity in the United States. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Given the non-traditional online format, there is hope from organizers that the new convention will reach more voters and help Biden achieve victory.

“This convention will look different than any previous convention in history. It will reach more people than ever before, and truly be a convention across America for all Americans, regardless of which party you belong to or who you’ve voted for in previous elections. This ‘unconventional convention’ will launch Joe Biden to victory in November,” says Joe Solmonese, the convention’s chief executive said in a statement.

But experts say the digital move could actually deter voters.

Byron Shafer, a retired University of Wisconsin-Madison professor and a scholar of conventions says for citizens not heavily into politics, the absence of both Biden and Trump from their respective conventions may deter those voters.

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“The president himself isn’t going to Charlotte. He’s not going to Jacksonville. Now the Democratic nominee is not coming,” Shafer said to the MJS. “If you were an audience member with a mild interest in politics, that might signal to you this isn’t worth it all, (that) you’re not going to spend 5 hours the week of the convention watching the (video) feed.”

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