Democratic Party delays July convention until August over coronavirus concerns

The event is now slated to begin on August 17, a week before the Republicans' convention.
Image: Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaks at a dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2019.
Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, speaks at a dinner in Des Moines, Iowa, on Nov. 1, 2019.Daniel Acker / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

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By Allan Smith and Ali Vitali

The Democratic National Committee is postponing its summer convention in Milwaukee over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

The four-day convention, set to take place in Milwaukee beginning July 13, will now take place the week of August 17.

"In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention," Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said in a statement. "During this critical time, when the scope and scale of the pandemic and its impact remain unknown, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of health care professionals and emergency responders."

"I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,' he added.

The decision comes after former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, said the convention would have to be postponed at least until August.

"I doubt whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July, early July. I think it's going to have to move into August," Biden said in an interview with NBC's "The Tonight Show."

Speaking with NBC News last week, Mark Longabaugh, a top adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign, said a postponement was far preferable to cancelation or making the entire event virtual.

'As a student of conventions and a political junkie and somebody who in the last convention had a very big role, they're a hell of a lot of fun,” he said. "I hope we don't lose them. Even though they're not what they were back in the day when they were smoke filled rooms or anything. But I hope we get to have a real in-person convention."

Meanwhile, the four-day Republican National Convention is set to begin on August 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Republicans have signaled in recent days that they plan to go ahead with the convention as planned.

"The word is full speed ahead,” a Republican National Committee official told NBC News. "We're anticipating that by the end of August everything will be absolutely fine. So we'll be ready to rock and roll. And so there are no contingency plans."

A Republican National Convention Committee official told NBC News last week all major public events will require "new processes and protective measures" in response to the outbreak.

James Dickey, chairman of the Texas Republican Party, said that Republicans "fully expect" that "the country will be back and running by that date and that we will be fully capable of conducting a safe and secure convention by late August."

President Donald Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity last week that there was "no way" he's canceling the convention.

"We’re at the end of August and I think we are going to be in great shape long before then," he said.