Unconventional Conventions: Everything to know about the Republican, Democratic National Conventions

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Thursday, August 13, 2020
Everything to know about the Republican, Democratic conventions
It's a staple of the election process, but the idea of that many people crammed into one convention hall space is clearly not 2020 safe.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's a staple of the election process: Every four years, thousands of the country's most politically active gather at the Republican and Democratic national conventions to formally nominate their party's presidential candidate.

But the idea of that many people crammed into one convention hall space is clearly not 2020 safe, and so, like so much else this year, the pandemic will give a whole new look to the political tradition.

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"This will be an interesting test case to see what a virtual convention looks like," SJSU political science professor Melinda Jackson, PhD, told ABC7 News.

So, as we head into two weeks of political frenzy, here is everything to know about the "unconventional" DNC and RNC.

Democratic National Convention

The DNC begins Monday, Aug. 17 and runs four nights through Thursday, Aug. 20. It was originally slated for Milwaukee, WI, but is now going entirely virtual.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will accept the party's nomination remotely. Biden will be in his home state of Delaware. It's unclear where Harris will join from.

DNC speakers -- which will include former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Gov. Gavin Newsom -- will also all join remotely.

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All delegates are also being asked to stay home for safety reasons.

Republican National Convention

The RNC -- which takes place Monday, Aug. 24 through Thursday, Aug. 27 -- has also dramatically downsized.

Plans to have some events take place in Jacksonville, FL. have been scrapped, but some events will still continue at the original convention site of Charlotte, NC.

President Trump, however, will no longer accept his party's nomination in Charlotte.

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"We're looking at Gettysburg, and we're looking at the White House," he told reporters this week. "We have other sites, too, but I think these would be two really beautiful sites."

As for Republican delegates, the RNC is asking six delegates from every state or territory to travel to Charlotte as proxies. They say any attendees will be required to take a COVID-19 test ahead of time and that people will wear masks and have daily temperature checks during the convention.

John Dennis is a President Trump delegate from San Francisco who is happy to be staying home.

"I'm personally a little relieved," Dennis told ABC7 News. "Flying across the country, being in hot Florida with a mask on my face the entire time, isn't my idea of a great time."

According to Professor Jackson, both conventions will likely hit similar themes. "The entire shape of the campaign has shifted dramatically because of the situation we're in," Jackson said, "So the focus is really going to be on those issues: The economy, how are we going to recover? How are we going to support people right now in the short term?"

Going into these conventions, the latest ABC News Washington Post poll shows Biden ahead of President Trump by 10 points among likely voters. Dennis worries the scaled down plans will only give more of an advantage to the Biden ticket.

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"One of the opportunities that the president, the incumbent, has is to put on a real big show, burst out of the convention and take some momentum into the fall," Dennis said. "Now, that's all gone, that opportunity is missed.

"So, I think if Biden is in fact the leader, if the polls are exactly right, then it's a big advantage for the challenger."

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