Delegates hold up signs and cheer on the second day of the Democratic National Convention at the Wells Fargo Center, July 26, 2016 in Philadelphia.
The Democratic National Convention, which was set for July, has been delayed until August as the coronavirus continues to spread.
“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds so we can best position our party for a safe and successful convention,” said DNC Convention Committee CEO Joe Solmonese in a press release.
“I have always believed that American innovation and ingenuity shine brightest during our darkest days, and for that reason, I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” he said.
The decision to postpone the convention comes amid pressure from former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the 2020 Democratic election, who on Tuesday said that he wouldn’t be surprised if the convention were postponed because of the outbreak. An MSNBC reporter asked if Biden could imagine the convention being held in July as originally planned.
“It’s hard to envision that,” the former vice president said in response to the question.
“We ought to be able — we were able to do it in the middle of the Civil War all the way through to World War II — have Democratic and Republican conventions and primaries and elections and still have public safety. And we’re able to do both. But the fact is it may have to be different.”
The decision also comes as more than a dozen states and U.S. territories adjusted their own presidential primaries, with some opting for a mail-in system to replace in-person voting and others delaying the primaries.
Already, the delays have changed the way both Biden and Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders campaign and get their message out to voters.
Biden maintains a commanding lead over Sanders, having secured victories in most of the primaries that have already occurred. In March, Sanders was mulling his options, his campaign said in an email, but the delayed primaries could give him a reason to stay in the race for a longer time.
The coronavirus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to dozens of countries, with more than 965,246 confirmed cases worldwide and at least 49,180 deaths so far, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. There are at least 217,263 cases in the United States and at least 5,137 deaths, according to the latest tallies.
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