Joe Biden, other speakers no longer coming to Milwaukee for 2020 DNC

COVID-19 pandemic further diminishes Milwaukee's involvement as convention host city

Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa.
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Credit: Pix_Arena /

Last updated on August 7th, 2020 at 01:18 pm

Plans for the upcoming 2020 Democratic National Convention continue to be scaled back as organizers announced Wednesday that former Vice President Joe Biden won’t make the trek to Milwaukee to accept the party’s nomination for president, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The same goes for other top Democrats who had planned to give speeches from the Wisconsin Center during the event, taking place Aug. 17 to 20. All speeches will now be presented virtually. Biden will give his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware, at a location yet to be announced. 

The decision comes after ongoing discussions with public health officials and experts “who underscored the worsening coronavirus pandemic,” the Democratic National Convention Committee said in a news release.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” said DNC Chair Tom Perez. “We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives.”

The size and scope of the DNC (and expected impact on the Milwaukee region) had already been significantly reduced when officials in June announced a new mostly virtual format, instructing state delegations to stay home. But anticipated visits from Biden and other top Democrats kept Milwaukee involved as host city.

Now, it’s unclear what role the city plays without the main stage events that would have been broadcast live from the Wisconsin Center.

“2020 will always be remembered as a year of once-in-a-lifetime challenges and changes—but it will also be remembered as a time when Americans were their most compassionate and resilient selves,” said Joe Solmonese, CEO of the 2020 DNC. “While we wish we could move forward with welcoming the world to beautiful Milwaukee in two weeks, we recognize protecting the health of our host community and everyone involved with this convention must be paramount.”

The DNC will include virtual daily committee meetings, and a mix of both pre-recorded segments and live broadcasts from locations across the country, which will air from 8 to 10 p.m. all four nights. It will also include user-generated content that the party has worked to source from voters across the U.S. since June.

According to a report from the New York Times, former President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden are among the convention’s selected speakers.

A custom virtual video control room has been designed to take in hundreds of feeds from around the country, according to the press release. 

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Maredithe Meyer
Maredithe Meyer covers restaurants, retail, tourism, and sports and entertainment. She joined BizTimes in 2015, previously as an intern reporter. She earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University in 2017. When she's not on the job, Maredithe coaches field hockey and loves exploring her favorite city on earth, Milwaukee.

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