The Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention

Welcome to The Hill’s Campaign Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 

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Clear your calendars — August is going to be a busy month in the political world.

The committee in charge of planning the Democratic National Convention announced Thursday that it would delay the gathering for a month because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The convention will now take place between Aug. 17-20 after originally being planned for July 13-17.

Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE pushed for the change, and the hope is that the virus will be under control and it will be safe for people to gather in groups once again. But no one really knows for sure, and it’s possible that the committee is considering other measures aimed at reducing the number of people who show up in Milwaukee, Wis.

The Republican National Convention is scheduled for Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C.

The party that is out of power typically holds their convention about a month before the incumbent’s convention.


But Democrats were faced with a slew of bad options. It would have been hard to gin up excitement around a streaming convention, and the party didn’t want to risk going online, then watching Trump hold a triumphant convention a month later.

That’s led to back-to-back conventions in the dog days of summer, setting up a furious sprint to the fall election.

Of course, nothing is certain until the pandemic is under control and life returns to some semblance of normalcy.



Democrats to delay convention until August, by Rafael Bernal, Amie Parnes and Jonathan Easley.



Biden’s associates have been reaching out to former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Obama to speak about George Floyd in virtual town hall GOP group launches redistricting site MORE about the process for selecting a running mate, The Hill’s Max Greenwood reports. Holder was one of the advisers that helped lead former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk Five ways America would take a hard left under Joe Biden Valerie Jarrett: ‘Democracy depends upon having law enforcement’ MORE’s running mate search in 2008.


The New York Times also reported on Thursday that Biden himself had spoken to Obama about the process. Aides to the former vice president caution that the search is still in its early phases and that the list of potential candidates remains fluid. But Biden said this week that he’s considering between six and 10 potential picks, including Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D).;


Biden said Thursday that his aides are working to set up a call between him and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE to discuss the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, “I’m happy to hear he’ll take my call,” Biden said in a virtual briefing with reporters Thursday. “My team is working with him to set such a call up.” Biden had previously offered to speak with Trump about the pandemic response. Asked about that offer, Trump said that he would “absolutely take his call. “I would love to speak with him, sure,” he said. Max has more here.


Biden called for the U.S. government to take “extraordinary steps” to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic after the Labor Department announced on Thursday that unemployment claims had risen to 6.6 million, The Hill’s John Bowden reports. “The economic devastation that families all across this country are experiencing by no fault of their own means we have to take extraordinary steps to protect them,” Biden said in a statement.


Trump’s reelection campaign tweeted out manipulated audio to make it sound like Biden called the coronavirus a “hoax” in an effort to draw attention to what it views as Twitter’s double standard in policing political speech. Jonathan Easley has more on the information wars here.



Liz Peek: “Trump’s daily briefings are dangerous…for Democrats.”

Simon Tisdall: “Don’t assume Trump’s bump in the polls will last.”


Edward Larson: “It is time to secure our elections.”



A federal judge refused on Thursday to push back the date of Wisconsin’s April 7 presidential primary despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Hill’s John Kruzel. The judge, though, is extending absentee voting to April 13. The ruling comes after the court heard arguments Wednesday over whether the voting date should be postponed as much of the country practices social distancing to limit person-to-person transmission of the virus and as Wisconsin faces a shortage of poll workers. At the oral arguments on Wednesday, the judge had hammered state officials for refusing to postpone the scheduled primary and regular elections, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Patrick Marley report. But Judge William Conley, an Obama appointee, said that he did not believe he had the authority to delay or change the April 7 elections.

The Trump campaign is demanding that former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE stop linking himself to Trump in his run for his old Alabama Senate seat, Justin Wise reports.




The liberal group Progressive Turnout Project (PTP) said it will spend $2.9 million on a phone banking effort to engage Democratic-leaning voters across four critical battleground states: Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, The Hill’s John Bowden reports.



(Keep in mind these dates could change because of the outbreak.)

April 7:

Wisconsin Democratic primary


April 10:



April 17:



April 26:

Puerto Rico Democratic primary


April 28:




Over in the U.K., a medical organization is training dogs to detect coronavirus on potentially asymptomatic individuals. 

The group, known as Medical Detection Dogs, have already trained their canines to sniff out other diseases like malaria and cancer. 

“In principle, we’re sure that dogs could detect Covid-19,” the group’s head, Dr. Claire Guest, told the BBC. “This would be fast, effective and non-invasive and make sure the limited NHS testing resources are only used where they are really needed.” 

Medical Detection Dogs is currently working with Durham University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to test the dogs. 

For more good news be sure to check out The Hill’s Selfless Acts page, where our reporters are detailing how Americans are helping each other through the coronavirus pandemic.


We’ll be back Friday with more campaign news!

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