How the coronavirus changed U.S. political conventions, perhaps forever


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“That could be more valuable this year than in other years, particularly for Democrats, because most people have not been paying as much attention to the nominee lately and he hasn’t been campaigning,” Zelizer said.

For Trump, his speech could be a chance to move beyond the debate about his handling of the pandemic and allow him to present his broad vision for a second term, said Ford O’Connell, a former Florida Republican congressional candidate who consults with the Trump campaign.

“The campaign believes if they can get past that hurdle, it’s easier to make your other points,” he said. “This is the place for Trump to make his case about where he wants to take the country.”

The prime-time speeches will be more intimate. Biden will speak from his home state of Delaware, not Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the host city for a mostly virtual convention. Trump, who will be renominated at a small Republican convention on Aug. 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina, is expected to deliver his speech later that week from the White House.

PUSHING PARTY MESSAGE

The reimagined format of the back-to-back conventions will force the parties to try to find a more compelling way to get their messages across.

Speeches by party stalwarts and rising stars will be delivered remotely from around the country. Democrats have designed a virtual video control room to take in hundreds of feeds, with the potential to interact with Americans nationwide.

“They aren’t confined to one stage or one place, so they will be forced to innovate,” said Kelly Dietrich, a Democratic strategist who has been running training programs on virtual campaigning for political candidates and staff.

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