Speakers Cancelled for Milwaukee DNC

By Will Kenneally

August 5, 2020 • Southeast Region

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Milwaukee skyline.

Milwaukee skyline.

The Milwaukee portion of the Democratic National Convention is effectively cancelled as the Democratic National Committee pulls the remaining speakers from the already paired-down convention.

The cancelled speeches include presidential candidate Joe Biden, who will receive the party’s nomination from his home state of Delaware.

“We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives,” said DNC chair Tom Perez.

According to a release, the Milwaukee speeches were cancelled due to coronavirus concerns and the possibility of infecting the convention’s “production teams, security officials, community partners, media and others necessary to orchestrate the event.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said at a Wednesday news conference that there would be some sort of presence on the ground in Milwaukee, but that it would likely be just local events.

“I can’t hide my disappointment, but again, I understand what’s going on in our nation right now,” he said.

In June, the party announced that the convention would be downsized so that delegates would largely vote virtually and have only a few representatives on the floor in Milwaukee. Per the June guidance, many of the convention speeches would be conducted virtually while Biden received the nomination from Milwaukee.

Wednesday’s release called the new announcement “a small adjustment to the overall planning,” saying “the majority of speeches and segments were already taking place in locations across the country.”

While the June decision indicated the virtual speeches would be anchored from Milwaukee, Barrett said he did not know now whether that virtual hub would be in Milwaukee or elsewhere.

The mayor added that the city would “put the brakes on” security spending related to the convention. Milwaukee and Charlotte both received $50 million in security-related assistance to host the two major parties’ conventions according to the mayor, who said he was confident the city’s current expenditures would be reimbursed.

The move drew frustration from Wisconsin Democrats, with Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes tweeting his reaction with a single emoji.

Gov. Tony Evers, who endorsed Biden earlier this week, said he was confident Biden would have a continued presence in Wisconsin. Republicans however, said Biden and the Democrats were repeating Hilary Clinton’s mistake of not visiting Wisconsin ahead of the general election.

“[Biden] would rather remain holed up in his Delaware basement than visit Wisconsin once,” said Trump campaign Wisconsin spokeswoman Anna Kelly. “He doesn’t want to put in the effort to earn Wisconsin votes and has formally abandoned the Badger State.”

With the Milwaukee portion of the 2020 DNC largely cancelled, Barrett said it is too early to think about Milwaukee’s chance at receiving the same bid for the 2024 presidential race.

“My response to that is, whoa, we’re focused on now,” he said. “We are focused on getting the economy back on track and solving the public health challenges, dealing with the racial challenges–that’s where our focus has to be.”

“We’re going to continue to promote this city,” he added, “because I think they did make the right choice–they made the right choice of picking Milwaukee for this convention.”

This story was updated to include quotes from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

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