Opinions over Joe Biden not coming to Milwaukee for the Democratic National Convention quickly fell along partisan lines, with GOP operatives slamming the decision as abandoning the state and Dems backing it for putting public health first.
The convention committee in a statement today revealed Biden would instead accept the nomination from his home in Delaware, after earlier saying he would still attend the greatly downsized Democratic National Convention in the state’s largest city.
“Vice President Joe Biden will no longer travel to Milwaukee and will instead address the nation and accept the Democratic nomination from his home state of Delaware,” the convention said in a statement, citing health and safety concerns brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gov. Tony Evers, who officially endorsed Biden this week, over Twitter today said the presumptive Dem nominee is leading by example by prioritizing safety over the convention.
“A lot has changed since we set out on this journey more than a year ago now, but the one thing that hasn’t is Democrats’ commitment to putting health and safety first,” he tweeted. “It has never been more important for elected officials to lead by example — that’s the kind of leader @JoeBiden is, and that’s the kind of president we need.”
And Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters in a webinar today that he was “both professionally and personally” disappointed with the news, but that “we can’t forget the fact that we’re in the middle of a pandemic.”
Meanwhile, state GOP Chair Andrew Hitt accused Biden of “formally abandoning the state of Wisconsin,” making comparisons to 2016 Dem candidate Hillary Clinton, who didn’t visit the state through the campaign and lost it by about 22,000 votes.
“Joe Biden has not visited the state of Wisconsin once this year and now is using coronavirus concerns as an excuse for his absence despite recent travel to other states,” Hitt said in a statement. “What’s even more clear in Joe Biden’s refusal to travel to even take a private plane to Milwaukee to accept his party’s nomination in a nearly empty room, is that he would rather use the COVID-19 pandemic for political gain rather than lead the country.”
Trump campaign spokeswoman Anna Kelly in a statement largely echoed Hitt’s sentiment, saying the president has “delivered on his promises” to the state and would win it again in November.
All other national convention speakers — including former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama — will also no longer attend the event in person in an attempt to protect the health of both Milwaukeeans and convention teams.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez in a statement. “We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives.”
Barrett said he believed there would still be some local events for the convention, despite no national names and a diminished media presence.
The convention is set to begin less than two weeks from now from Aug. 17-20, although in a much more limited and mostly virtual capacity compared to expectations before the pandemic.
The DNC had previously pushed its mid-July date to August citing COVID concerns. And in June it had said Biden would attend the limited event in-person. But a campaign spokesman at the time added it was still “considering a variety of formats,” and what the event actually looks like would greatly depend on the state of the pandemic leading up to the convention.
Analysts originally predicted the DNC would inject some $200 million into the local economy.
See Evers’ Tweet: