Biden, Trump scramble to replan nomination speeches
WASHINGTON, Aug 5, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – The US election plunged deeper
into unprecedented territory Wednesday when challenger Joe Biden
announced he would accept his nomination virtually and President
Donald Trump suggested breaking tradition by holding his own ceremony
at the White House.
Citing coronavirus health risks, the Biden campaign said he would
make his speech — the high point of a candidate’s race — from his
Delaware home where he has spent most of the last months.
He had planned to attend the August 17-20 Democratic convention in
Milwaukee, which was already heavily scaled-down from the massive
event typical before US elections.
But the party said the risk was still too high, and switched to a
fully virtual affair.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and
safety of the American people first,” said Democratic National
Committee chairman Tom Perez.
“That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves.”
Trump, whose reelection bid is struggling with a badly wounded
economy and surging COVID-19 pandemic, signalled he may also accept
his nomination from home — in his case, the White House.
“I love the building. I’m there right now. I spend a lot of time
here,” he told Fox News.
Trump’s August 27 acceptance speech was originally planned for North
Carolina, but that was scrapped due to the coronavirus, as was the
back-up location, leaving the Republican scrambling for alternatives.
However, presidents are required to separate their campaigning from
taxpayer-funded governing. If he goes ahead, Trump would be breaking
at the very least with presidential decorum by turning the South Lawn
of the iconic building into his personal campaign stage.
Trump defended the idea as “by far the least expensive” and said
that logistically it would require far less movement of staff and
He said he would rethink “if for some reason someone had difficulty with it.”
In the interview with Fox News the president acknowledged that his
reelection had got harder.
“The election was going to be a walk, a walk in the park,” he said.
With characteristic optimism, he cited polls that have not been made
public and insisted that “we’re doing well.”
– ‘This thing’s going away’ –
The president railed, as he does almost every day now, against
increased use of mail-in ballots, which states are rolling out so that
people don’t have to go in person to polling stations.
Trump says this would lead to a fraudulent election.
There is no evidence that this would happen and several states
already rely heavily on the mail-in method, without any significant
Democrats say Trump fears more mail-in voting because this will
increase turnout and would hurt his chances.
According to Trump, a big increase in mail-ins will swamp the
system, meaning no clear winner can be announced for possibly “months
or years. They will never be able to tabulate their votes.”
He also insisted that schools should reopen in September — a major
step in reinforcing Trump’s message that the country has to move on
from the pandemic, but many health experts and teachers says it would
be too dangerous.
Trump again said the virus would soon vanish, repeating his numerous
sunny predictions about a health crisis that has so far killed 156,000
people in the US.
“This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away and my
view is that schools should be open,” he said.
– Election oracle’s message –
Despite Trump’s claims to have internal polling showing him ready to
repeat his 2016 surprise victory over Hillary Clinton, a professor who
has become known as something of a US election oracle says otherwise.
Allan Lichtman, who teaches history professor at American University
and has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1984,
said in a New York Times op-ed that Biden will prevail.
Lichtman uses an analytical process that he calls the 13 “keys to
the White House,” focusing less on the actual candidates as the
broader political standing of the two competing parties.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told CNBC that
Lichtman shouldn’t be believed.
“This is an election like no other in history,” he said. “American
voters will decide this election, not academics or professors.”