House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has a big idea for how to stage the 2020 Democratic National Convention in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hold it in a large stadium over one day, so that attendees are able to practice social distancing.
Pelosi aired her idea Friday night during an interview with C-SPAN. Pelosi said she has made the suggestion to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez but admitted the logistics would be challenging.
The convention, scheduled for Milwaukee, has been pushed back from mid-July to the week of Aug. 17. Fiserv Forum is the main venue.
Miller Park is Milwaukee’s largest stadium with a seating capacity of 41,900.
Last year, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett had reached out to the Milwaukee Brewers to see if the stadium might be used for the last night of the convention. But that idea was eventually scrapped.
The fate of the 2020 Major League Baseball season remains uncertain.
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During the interview, Pelosi recalled that she accompanied her parents to the 1960 Democratic Convention in Los Angeles, where John F. Kennedy accepted the nomination in the cavernous Los Angeles Coliseum.
“So my suggestion to Mr. Perez was get a gigantic stadium and put people six feet apart so maybe instead of having 80,000 people there you would have 16,000 people there and just do it all in one day,” she said.
Under this scenario, the daylong convention would pass a party platform and nominate the presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
“Have your speeches and everyone would go home,” she said.
“The problem with it is the logistics,” she said. “You have to have many more buses to get people there.”
“So that was just my suggestion to him with absolutely no support for how it could be done,” she added. “I was just going on how exciting it was to be in the stadium with John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama (in 2008) when they made their speeches, but never with the idea that both would be filled up in the case of the coronavirus.”
“So they’ll make an informed decision about it,” she said. “I feel sad about it because it’s such an exciting thing and really important that the people of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin have been so gracious in their hospitality, enthusiasm for hosting.”
Joe Solmonese, chief executive officer of the Democratic National Convention Committee, said the party continues to prepare for all contingencies.
“Protecting the health and well-being of our host community and everyone involved with the convention will drive every decision we make as we put plans in place for August,” Solmonese said in a statement Saturday.
“As we continue to learn more about the coronavirus and the impact it’s having on our country, we’ll continue to follow the guidance of public health experts and adjust our contingency plans,” he said. “America has changed because of coronavirus, and we need to change with it, but I’m confident that we’ll be able to deliver a successful convention in Milwaukee this summer.”
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