Trump, Biden face muted U.S. political conventions amid coronavirus

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday proposed accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in a speech from the White House, prompting the country’s leading elected Democrat to accuse him of politicizing the historic residence.

Separately, his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, will accept his party’s nomination in a national address from his home state of Delaware rather than in Milwaukee as planned, party officials said on Wednesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has led both political parties to downsize the traditional made-for-television affairs featuring often-raucous speeches in front of thousands of the party faithful.

Denied the larger crowds he thrives on, Trump said: “We’re thinking about doing it from the White House.”

Citing the security costs of his travel and an address, Trump told FOX News that holding it at the White House “would be by far the least expensive from the country’s standpoint.”

He said the plan was not firm because somebody had difficulty with it, but did not elaborate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat who is third in line for the presidency, told MSNBC: “For the president of the United States to degrade once again the White House, as he has done over and over again, by saying he is going to completely politicize it, is something that should be rejected right out of hand.”

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said Trump “probably shouldn’t do it.”

The decision to pull Biden and other speakers from Milwaukee, where Democrats had planned to hold a multiday nominating convention in person, ensures the event from Aug. 17-20 will be almost entirely virtual.

Trump told FOX the Republican convention would be virtual and include some live speeches from different locations, with his acceptance speech on Aug. 27, the last night. Media will be invited to a “nomination night” in Charlotte, North Carolina, he said, contrary to reports it might be closed to reporters.

Deaths from the coronavirus in the United States have recently been averaging more than 1,000 a day. The election is Nov. 3.

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