Trump says he’ll accept nomination from either White House or Gettysburg
President Trump on Monday said he plans to deliver his acceptance speech during the Republican National Convention (RNC) from either the White House or the battlefield at Gettysburg.
“We have narrowed the Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, to be delivered on the final night of the Convention (Thursday), to two locations – The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C. We will announce the decision soon!” Trump tweeted.
The president’s stated shortlist of potential locations comes two weeks before the RNC is set to begin.
Both would likely generate controversy, though the White House poses potential legal challenges. Trump last spoke at Gettysburg, the site of the Civil War battle and former President Abraham Lincoln’s famed address, in October 2016. A few other presidents have delivered speeches at Gettysburg, though they have generally been around Memorial Day instead of acceptance speeches.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested a Trump speech from Gettysburg would focus on themes of unity, saying “the president has done a lot to bring this country together” despite intense polarization throughout his first term.
The Democratic and Republican conventions have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. The RNC was originally scheduled to take place in Charlotte, N.C., but Trump moved it to Jacksonville, Fla., after the North Carolina governor said social distancing and masks would be required. As the virus surged in recent weeks, Trump caved and called off the in-person celebration altogether.
The president is expected to visit Charlotte during business meetings among party leaders, but he will give his acceptance speech from a different location.
Trump last week said he would “probably” give the speech from the White House, an idea that drew pushback from even some Republicans.
“I assume that’s not something that you could do. I assume there’s some Hatch Act issues or something,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the second highest-ranking GOP senator. “I don’t know the answer to that and I haven’t heard him say that, but I think anything to do with federal property would seem to me to be problematic.”
Trump has shrugged off any legal questions about using the White House and argued that it would be cheaper than other alternatives.
–This report was updated at 2:00 p.m.