WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) – Monday marked one week from the start of political convention season, but there is nothing conventional about this year’s Democratic and Republican national conventions.
Both parties say they will be virtual because of the pandemic, but they are still planning prime time television events.
“The one thing they do mention in a lot of their emails is that there will be no parties or real events in person,” said Braxton Payne, a DNC delegate from Missouri.
Payne expected to join thousands of fellow Democratic delegates in a crowded Milwaukee arena to officially nominate Joe Biden for president. But because of the coronavirus, Payne will instead be representing his state in the Democratic National Convention next week from home.
“There is a lot of Zoom, Skype, virtual meetings, caucuses, happy hours put forth by a lot of different organizations within the Democratic Party,” Payne said.
Mike McCurry, the communications director for the 1988 DNC and President Bill Clinton’s press secretary, lamented the conventional convention.
“It’s just not going to be the same,” McCurry said. “They showed how the party does its work. To some people, that’s interesting stuff.”
However, a virtual convention may open up the process to a larger audience. The public will be able to participate in a lot of events alongside the delegates from their computer.
“You can go to the DNC’s website, look those up, and you can actually go and attend those conferences,” Payne said. “That’s something I think is a benefit.”
When the Republican National Convention kicks off the following week, Tim Murtaugh, the Trump 2020 communications director, still promised plenty of fanfare.
“It’s going to be a great show, great party, great celebration of Donald Trump,” Murtaugh said.
The RNC may still even include the iconic convention balloon drop.
“We’ll see,” Murtaugh said. “Donald Trump, he’s a big thinker. You never know.”
The conventions set the stage for a presidential debate, the first time President Trump and Biden will face off. But due to the pandemic, that may look different, too.