It is rumored in DC Thursday morning that both the Republican and the Democratic National Committees are planning to at least postpone, or possibly cancel, their summer nominating conventions.
The GOP had planned to go to Charlotte, NC in August and the Democrats to Milwaukee, WI in July.
The public health risk of that many people closely packed on convention floors, not to mention the numerous other meetings and events at a political convention, could make it impossible to go ahead with the conventions without putting thousands of staff, delegates, alternates, their families, and media in danger of catching and/or spreading the coronavirus.
At present, heath officials can give no specific date as to the peak and dissipation of the virus. Senior health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci have also said there could be a second outbreak coming in the fall. Thus the uncertainty of the virus timeline is giving party officials serious reservations about the viability of current plans.
An added reason some Democrats may be pushing for a cancellation? They are worried that Joe Biden’s recent poor showing in front of the cameras during his coronavirus response would be magnified at a convention and sink his chances in the fall.
If the conventions were cancelled how would the parties proceed to nominate a person for the presidency?
Smaller gatherings of just delegates adhering to strict rules of social distancing could take place for convention business and nominations. Proceedings and speeches could be done from remote locations and broadcast to the public on television and online. Party officials also are concerned that in these crisis times, the last thing voters want to see is a 3-4 day promotional festival.
Dr. Tim Blessing of Alvernia University commented on the possibility of a convention cancellation: “Both sides could say they are acting responsibly.”
Delegates and party officials would have to sign off on such a deal by a vote. DC scuttlebutt says that vote could be proposed in the next two weeks and taken soon after. This would be the first change to party convention tradition since the early 19th century. The conventions went on even during the Civil War.