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Nancy Pelosi suggests really large venue for DNC summer convention amid pandemic

(Image: PBS screenshot)

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is thinking about ways to hold the Democratic National Convention in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The California Democrat took a nostalgic look at past Conventions during an interview with C-SPAN on Friday, sharing that she has made suggestions to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez about holding the event with some alterations later this summer.


(Source: C-SPAN)

Pelosi was asked on “Washington Journal Primetime” about her recommendations for the event, which is currently scheduled to be held in Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 17-20, and how it could safely be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The convention was initially set to be held in Milwaukee in mid-July but was postponed due to the health crisis.

“Well, it’s not my decision and I sympathize with those who have to make it,” she replied.

“As a party chair myself, I had big conventions in California and chaired a national convention,” she continued, referring to the 1984 event in which she served as the San Francisco Democratic National Convention Host Committee chairwoman.

“So I have some idea of the amount of work and planning and investment, really, [that] is necessary to put on such a convention,” she added. “But I have confidence in the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Chairman Perez, that he’ll make the right decision based on health and science, but also with the opportunity to do so something.”

She went on to share her own suggestion and what she had posited to Perez about possible options, first sharing her experience as a child when she attended the convention that nominated John F. Kennedy.

“When I was a girl, I went with my parents to the convention in Los Angeles, and at that convention, John F. Kennedy was nominated. And he gave his acceptance speech in the Coliseum, this enormous … stadium,” she recalled.

“So when Obama did that in Denver, everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s the first time,’ [but] that wasn’t the first time: John F Kennedy was the first time,” she said, referring to the 2008 Democratic National Convention when more than 80,000 Democrats gathered at what was then called Invesco Field at Mile High.

“So my suggestion to Mr. Perez was, get a gigantic stadium and put people six feet apart,” Pelosi went on, noting one of the guidelines implemented in protecting against spreading the coronavirus.

The Democrat also suggested the possibility of making the event shorter in duration and limiting the number of people who attend. The four-day Democratic National Convention that nominated Hillary Clinton as the presidential nominee in July 2016 was held at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and had over 50,000 in attendance.

“So maybe instead of having 80,000 people there, you would have 16,000 people there and just do it all in one day,” Pelosi told the C-SPAN host.

“I served [on] the platform committee so I know what that entails,” she added, referring to 1992, noting that you “have your platform and then nominate your vice president, nominate the president, have your speeches and everyone go home.”

She admitted the challenges that would still have to be faced.

“The problem with it is the logistics: you have to have many more buses to get people there,” she said. “So that was my suggestion to him with absolutely no support for how it could be done, but just going on how exciting it was to be in the stadium [when] John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama made their speeches, but never with the idea that they would be filled up in the case of coronavirus.”

“So they’ll make an informed decision about it — I feel sad about it because it’s such an exciting thing, and really important that people have Milwaukee … and the state of Wisconsin [have] been so gracious in their hospitality and enthusiasm for hosting, and I’m sure it’s the same in North Carolina, for the Republicans, because it is disappointing when you have a historic event and national event to bring so many people together when we really can’t be together,” she said.

The decision to reschedule the convention, setting it up to take place the week before the Republican convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, was made in early April as the nation faced the growing coronavirus outbreak.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, had indicated in early April that the convention will “have to move into August.”

“I doubt whether the Democratic Convention is going to be able to be held in mid-July or early July. I think it’s going to have to move into August,” he told “Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon at the time. “We just have to be prepared for the alternative and the alternative, we don’t know what it’s going to be unless we have a better sense of whether this curve is going to move down or up.”

Frieda Powers

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