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Perez Previews Virtual Democratic National Convention During Online Forum

August 11, 2020 by Reece Nations
Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden speaks via recorded video to the Ohio Democratic Party’s virtual state convention Saturday.

For the first time in its history, the Democratic Party has elected not to gather in person to select a presidential nominee, opting instead to convene virtually from Monday, Aug. 17 through Thursday, Aug. 20.

The full updated schedule for the Democratic National Convention, dubbed “Uniting America,” was unveiled Tuesday on the organization’s website. Featured guest speakers include Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and former GOP Gov. John Kasich, among others.

The event’s official livestream will be hosted on DemConvention.com and convention programming will air from 9:00-11:00 p.m. EST. Former Vice President Joe Biden is scheduled to formally accept the party’s nomination and will attend the convention from Wilmington, Del.

The convention was originally scheduled to take place at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wis., but was changed to a virtual event in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Despite the virtual proceedings, DNC chair Tom Perez said he will travel in person to Milwaukee to traditionally gavel the convention open Monday night.

“Everyone understands that complacency has no place in the Biden campaign,” Perez said at a virtual forum hosted by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. “We’re out to earn every vote, and we’re working for every vote.”

The Humphrey School’s forum featured a discussion among Justin Buoen, former presidential campaign manager for Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., former Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., and Perez. The Republican National Committee declined an invitation to participate in the forum.

Biden’s appeal is far-reaching and bypasses partisan affiliation, Perez said during the forum. “Hardcore” Democrats, independent voters and even some voters who traditionally back Republican candidates have thrown their support behind Biden’s candidacy.

“Everyone understands that complacency has no place in the Biden campaign,” Perez said at a virtual forum hosted by the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. “We’re out to earn every vote, and we’re working for every vote.”

Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez

Much of the enthusiasm for Biden centers around a shared desire to restore the decorum of old, he said. The rhetoric of his campaign has revolved around bringing back empathy and a state of normalcy.

“I think elections come down to who do you trust to keep (their) promises,” Perez said. “Whose moral compass is your moral compass as a voter?” 

This juxtaposition of principles was also reflected in how each major party amended its campaign and convention plans, he said. As Democrats adhered to the guidance of the scientific community and refocused their election efforts virtually well in advance of the convention, Republicans pushed on “full-steam-ahead” until their plans became infeasible.

Tulsa Health Department Director Bruce Dart said Trump’s late-June rally there was likely a contributing factor to a local surge in coronavirus cases that followed, according to the Associated Press. Among the attendees infected were six Trump campaign staffers and two Secret Service members.

“We always have to remind ourselves that a convention is not a party,” he said. “It is an opportunity… to highlight our values, to mobilize our troops, and to hit the ground running heading into the most important election cycle of my life — and I think one of the most important in American history.”

Although “anchored” in Wisconsin, the 2020 DNC will be a “convention across America,” Perez said. It is possible some of the virtual elements of this year’s convention will be brought back for subsequent events and future conventions as well.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated a change in tactics to reach voters, the party’s goals remain the same. Instead of canvassing neighborhoods and knocking on doors, digital outreach and social media engagement is paramount to successful campaigning in modern times, he said.

“It’s going to be abundantly clear to everybody watching (the convention) that our goal is not to recreate where we were in 2016,” Perez said. “Our goal is to move forward in a bold, inclusive, exciting, aggressive way to tackle the challenges of 2020 and beyond.”

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