Most Democratic delegates surveyed don't want to attend full-scale convention: New York Times

Most Democratic delegates surveyed don't want to attend full-scale convention: New York Times
© Greg Nash

Most Democratic delegates surveyed by The New York Times said they don’t want to attend a full-scale convention amid the coronavirus pandemic, the newspaper reported. 

Of the 59 delegates interviewed in the last week, just nine said they are planning to attend the convention, with only seven saying they have made travel arrangements to get to Milwaukee for the August convention and two saying they believe it will be safe to travel and attend the event, according to the Times. 

Reluctance was reported from surveyed delegates of all age groups, including longtime delegates and ones who would be attending for their first time, the newspaper noted. 

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“I have heard from people who have gone to many conventions, people who are die-hards, saying, ‘I’m not going to that,’” David Pepper, the Ohio Democratic Party chairman, told the Times. “One thing that may drive the decision is people saying they’re not going to go.”

Some delegates reportedly expressed concern over public health for attending a large, crowded gathering amid the coronavirus crisis. 

“You think about all of the ways a convention has to be done, I don’t see how it could be done in-person in August,” Alexis Wiley, a Democratic National Committee (DNC) member from Detroit, told the Times. “I’m pregnant, so I’m high risk. I really want to participate, but in such a vulnerable category, it doesn’t make sense to even risk it.”

Sierra Yamanaka, a 25-year-old DNC member from Arizona, added that she would be sad to miss out on her first convention but said she understands it's the “safer and more responsible” option not to gather in large crowds

“It would be devastating to the Democratic organizations across the country if there were to be an outbreak there,” she said 

Democratic officials responsible for the convention have outlined three potential plans for the convention. 

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Plans include potentially holding the full convention if health conditions permit, the Times reports. Democratic officials are also weighing a mostly virtual convention with a limited in-person presence as well as an entirely remote convention.

Joe Solmonese, CEO of the Democratic National Convention, told The Hill the DNC will adjust its plans as experts learn more about the impact the coronavirus is having.

“Protecting the health and well-being of our host community and everyone involved with the convention will drive every decision we make as we put plans in place for August,” Solmonese said in a statement.

“America has changed because of coronavirus, and we need to change with it, but I’m confident we’ll be able to deliver a successful convention in Milwaukee this summer,” he added.

Solmonese told the Times he can understand why people are “more drawn to a message that gives a sense that trouble is behind us and the show must go on,” but he said the DNC is going to continue to be “transparent and honest” about its planning.

“As often as not, that means the answer is we don’t know. It doesn’t feel as good as when you say, ‘We are certain and we’re plowing full-speed ahead,’ but it’s the truth,” he added.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenTrump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore HuffPost reporter: Biden's VP shortlist doesn't suggest progressive economic policies Jill Biden says she plans to continue teaching if she becomes first lady MORE’s campaign told the Times it is delaying decisions on the size of its footprint at the convention until more is known about the pandemic. 

“We are considering a variety of formats for this to take place, but we are certain that in the end it will capture the enthusiasm and spirit that we have to making Donald Trump a one-term president and transforming our country,” Bill Russo, a Biden spokesman, told the newspaper. 

By contrast, Republicans have expressed pushing forward with a full-scale convention in August to back President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump suggests some states may 'pay nothing' as part of unemployment plan Trump denies White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore Trump, US face pivotal UN vote on Iran MORE’s reelection bid, underscoring the partisan divide in responses to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted in April that the GOP is “full steam ahead” with planning for the convention, calling a report that alterations are being considered “false.” 

The coronavirus has infected more than 1.4 million people and killed 89,564 people in the U.S., according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.