The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention

The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention
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Welcome to The Hill's Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We're Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here's what we're watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY:  

Clear your calendars -- August is going to be a busy month in the political world.

The committee in charge of planning the Democratic National Convention announced Thursday that it would delay the gathering for a month because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The convention will now take place between Aug. 17-20 after originally being planned for July 13-17.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points Biden: 'We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us' MORE pushed for the change, and the hope is that the virus will be under control and it will be safe for people to gather in groups once again. But no one really knows for sure, and it's possible that the committee is considering other measures aimed at reducing the number of people who show up in Milwaukee, Wis.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.

The party that is out of power typically holds their convention about a month before the incumbent's convention.

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But Democrats were faced with a slew of bad options. It would have been hard to gin up excitement around a streaming convention, and the party didn't want to risk going online, then watching Trump hold a triumphant convention a month later.

That's led to back-to-back conventions in the dog days of summer, setting up a furious sprint to the fall election.

Of course, nothing is certain until the pandemic is under control and life returns to some semblance of normalcy.

 

READ MORE:

Democrats to delay convention until August, by Rafael Bernal, Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley.

 

FROM THE TRAIL:

Biden's associates have been reaching out to former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderLegal challenges to stay-at-home orders gain momentum Census delay threatens to roil redistricting Storm builds around Barr over dropping of Flynn case MORE about the process for selecting a running mate, The Hill's Max Greenwood reports. Holder was one of the advisers that helped lead former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe battle of two Cubas Obama on the death of George Floyd: 'This shouldn't be "normal" in 2020 America' Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA MORE's running mate search in 2008.

 

The New York Times also reported on Thursday that Biden himself had spoken to Obama about the process. Aides to the former vice president caution that the search is still in its early phases and that the list of potential candidates remains fluid. But Biden said this week that he's considering between six and 10 potential picks, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).;

 

Biden said Thursday that his aides are working to set up a call between him and President TrumpDonald John TrumpDonald Trump and Joe Biden create different narratives for the election The hollowing out of the CDC Poll: Biden widens lead over Trump to 10 points MORE to discuss the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, "I'm happy to hear he'll take my call," Biden said in a virtual briefing with reporters Thursday. "My team is working with him to set such a call up." Biden had previously offered to speak with Trump about the pandemic response. Asked about that offer, Trump said that he would "absolutely take his call. "I would love to speak with him, sure," he said. Max has more here.

 

Biden called for the U.S. government to take "extraordinary steps" to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic after the Labor Department announced on Thursday that unemployment claims had risen to 6.6 million, The Hill's John Bowden reports. "The economic devastation that families all across this country are experiencing by no fault of their own means we have to take extraordinary steps to protect them," Biden said in a statement.

 

Trump's reelection campaign tweeted out manipulated audio to make it sound like Biden called the coronavirus a "hoax" in an effort to draw attention to what it views as Twitter's double standard in policing political speech. Jonathan Easley has more on the information wars here.

 

PERSPECTIVES:

Liz Peek: "Trump's daily briefings are dangerous...for Democrats."

Simon Tisdall: "Don't assume Trump's bump in the polls will last."

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Edward Larson: "It is time to secure our elections."

 

FROM CONGRESS AND THE STATES:

A federal judge refused on Thursday to push back the date of Wisconsin's April 7 presidential primary despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hill's John Kruzel. The judge, though, is extending absentee voting to April 13. The ruling comes after the court heard arguments Wednesday over whether the voting date should be postponed as much of the country practices social distancing to limit person-to-person transmission of the virus and as Wisconsin faces a shortage of poll workers. At the oral arguments on Wednesday, the judge had hammered state officials for refusing to postpone the scheduled primary and regular elections, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Patrick Marley report. But Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, said that he did not believe he had the authority to delay or change the April 7 elections.


The Trump campaign is demanding that former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Department of Justice should step aside in the George Floyd case The Memo: Trump tweets cross into new territory Sessions goes after Tuberville's coaching record in challenging him to debate MORE stop linking himself to Trump in his run for his old Alabama Senate seat, Justin Wise reports.

 

MONEY WATCH:

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The liberal group Progressive Turnout Project (PTP) said it will spend $2.9 million on a phone banking effort to engage Democratic-leaning voters across four critical battleground states: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, The Hill's John Bowden reports.

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

April 7:

Wisconsin Democratic primary

 

April 10:

Alaska

 

April 17:

Wyoming

 

April 26:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary

 

April 28:

Ohio

 

ONE HOPEFUL THING

Over in the U.K., a medical organization is training dogs to detect coronavirus on potentially asymptomatic individuals. 

The group, known as Medical Detection Dogs, have already trained their canines to sniff out other diseases like malaria and cancer. 

"In principle, we're sure that dogs could detect Covid-19," the group's head, Dr. Claire Guest, told the BBC. "This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed." 

Medical Detection Dogs is currently working with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to test the dogs. 

For more good news be sure to check out The Hill's Selfless Acts page, where our reporters are detailing how Americans are helping each other through the coronavirus pandemic.

 

We'll be back Friday with more campaign news!