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Democratic National Convention delayed until mid-August due to coronavirus

Organizers say the one month delay will give more time to determine the 'most appropriate structure' for the convention.

WASHINGTON — The 2020 Democratic National Convention has been pushed back one month to the week of Aug. 17 due to concerns about coronavirus, organizers announced Thursday morning. 

The postponement comes just one day after Democratic front-runner Joe Biden said he thought his party's nominating convention would have to be pushed back from July into August because of the coronavirus threat

Organizers said Thursday that the convention will be held the week of August 17th, "providing convention planners more time to determine the most appropriate structure for this historic event." 

Convention CEO Joe Solmonese confirmed the decision in a statement. 

“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,” Solmonese said.

Democrats were originally scheduled to convene July 13-16 in Milwaukee.

Biden on Wednesday night told NBC late-night commedian Jimmy Fallon that he doubted "whether the Democratic convention is going to be able to be held” on its original July 13-16 schedule in Milwaukee.

“I think it’s going to have move into August,” Biden said. "You just have to be prepared for the alternative, and the alternative — we don’t know what it’s going to be.”

Those comments are the furthest Biden had gone in predicting a delay for the convention, which would mark the start of the general election campaign. The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Democrats and Republicans to take a close look at whether they'll be able to move forward as planned with their summer conventions. 

Republicans plan to gather one week later, Aug. 24-27, in Charlotte, North Carolina.  

Republicans, meanwhile, are expressing confidence they can pull off their convention as scheduled, but party Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel still allows for the possibility that the pandemic could upend GOP plans.

Credit: AP
FILE - In this July 26, 2016, file photo the stage is reflected on a glass window on the suite level at Wells Fargo Arena as Timmy Kelly sings the national anthem before the start of the second day session of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Neither Democratic nor Republican leaders want to sacrifice the boost that can result from an enthusiastic convention gathering. President Donald Trump thrives on big rallies and has obviously missed that part of his routine amid the coronavirus outbreak, reluctantly turning the Rose Garden and the White House briefing room into substitutes. A traditional convention, with a nationally televised nomination acceptance speech, could be even more critical for Biden, who has been relegated recently to remote television interviews from his Delaware home, unable to draw the kind of spotlight that a sitting president commands.

Democratic National Committee authorities based in Milwaukee are exploring various options should social distancing recommendations still be in effect in the summer months. 

Democrats originally scheduled their convention ahead of the Summer Olympics. But the international games have been postponed until 2021, opening several weeks on the summer television calendar. Tradition dictates that Democrats, as the party out of power, hold their convention first.

Solmonese and his aides are expected in the coming weeks to present party Chairman Tom Perez with options. But Democrats’ lingering nominating contest could complicate what happens next. Biden holds a prohibitive delegate lead that makes him the prospective nominee, but Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders remains in the race and insists he has a “narrow” path to the nomination.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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