Jun 25, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Inside Democrats' (mostly) virtual convention

Mike Allen
Joe Biden speaks last week in Darby, Pa. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Democrats are trying to make a virtue of necessity by modernizing the rusty convention format for a mostly virtual gathering in Milwaukee in August, with up to 1,000 people in real life but extensive use of videos and remotes.

What's planned: The program will be shorter — 8 to 11 p.m. ET over four nights, instead of starting at the traditional 4 or 5 p.m. And there'll be fewer speeches, with a mix of live and taped segments from around the country.

  • The emphasis will be on storytelling — what President Trump has done vs. what America could be under Joe Biden.
  • It'll be billed as a convention for all Americans, with outreach to people who supported Bernie Sanders — and Trump 2016 voters who regret it.

The state of play: The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that the "Convention Across America" will be "anchored in Milwaukee," moved from the arena where the Bucks play to a smaller convention center downtown.

  • "[S]tate delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely," the DNCC said.

Between the lines: Both parties are playing up the optical contrast between their conventions, with Trump trying to send a comeback message via a massive gathering (now in Jacksonville) with pre-pandemic exuberance.

  • So the conventions — held back-to-back in the third and fourth weeks of August, with Dems first — will be constraint vs. bravado, a proxy for Trump vs. Biden.

The bottom line ... Axios' Margaret Talev calls the Democrats' approach a "forced reset" — experiments the country has been living with for 3+ months:

  • Pare back to essentials.
  • See what can work virtually with technology.
  • Try innovations that'd be tough sells in "normal" times.
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