FOR THE WEEK OF AUG. 24, 2020
Democratic and Republican conventions adapt to unconventional formats in Covid era
Share your reaction to an eye-grabbing photo from the Democrats' event.
Now show a colorful quote from coverage of this week's convention.
Read a column, editorial or reader letter about the presidential campaign. Why do you agree or disagree with the point of view?
The Democratic National Convention last week and Republican National Convention this week turned into TV-only events, mostly, reflecting an election season unlike any other. The country, the economy and the presidential campaign trail are shaken up by the coronavirus pandemic that has killed 180,000 Americans. The Democrats formally nominated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at a four-day virtual convention mixing live and recorded speeches, plus and slickly produced videos – all run from a TV control room.
The unusual presentation was widely praised as more meaningful and impactful than past nominating ceremonies in large, packed arenas. "Because there was no roar of the crowd, everyone could be clearly heard," notes New York Times columnist Charles Blow. "Cameras stayed fixed on the speaker instead of panning to the audience. Some of the features of this convention should actually be preserved and repeated, even after we can meet again in large gatherings." Highlights included Jill Biden, speaking about herself and her husband from a Delaware classroom where she used to teach English. Prominent speakers also included past presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as their spouses Michelle and Hillary. In Thursday night's acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware (see video below), Joe Biden attacked President Trump's handling of multiple national crises, including the pandemic that left him addressing a near-empty room.
Now it's the other side's turn. Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the Republican Party start their four-day nominating event Monday in North Carolina, where a bit of on-site activity will take place. Six delegates from each state, territory and the District of Columbia – 336 in all – will participate there in a roll call formality Monday at the Charlotte Convention Center to nominate the president and vice president for a second term. The main speeches will take place at the White House and at Fort McHenry in Maryland. Speakers will include Congress members, First Lady Melania Trump (appearing Tuesday from the White House Rose Garden), voters, Internet-famous conservatives and the two national candidates. Trump will appear each night. Presentations will show "everyday Americans whose stories are filled with hope and patriotism," a campaign official says.
Media observer says: "All of the speeches have been way more powerful and resonated more because they are not constantly interrupted by the applause we normally see at conventions." – Tom Jones, Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Columnist says: "This [Democratic] convention marks the point where everyone has agreed the debate about gender at the top is all over. The future . . . is almost certainly going to be one full of expanding political opportunities for women." – Gail Collins, The New York Times
Impact on host cities: Mayor Tom Barrett says Milwaukee lost an expected $200 million in economic impact by not hosting an in-person Democratic convention. A similar setback is felt by Charlotte, where restaurant chef Rocco Whalen says: "The bookings we had in place, cannot be replaced.”
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