In what would be first for the modern era, a report from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette indicates that the GOP’s convention in North Carolina will be closed to the press — including the moment when President Donald Trump accepts the nomination on Aug. 24.
A spokesperson for the convention made the announcement that members of the media would be excluded because of coronavirus-related restrictions on the number of people that can be in the building at any given time, the Washington Examiner noted.
“[W]e are planning for all of the Charlotte activities to be closed press: Friday, August 21 – Monday, 24th given the health restrictions and limitations in place in the state,” the convention spokesperson said via email, according to the Examiner. “We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”
According to the Examiner, parts of the convention will be live-streamed, but it was not clear whether C-SPAN would even be allowed to provide pool footage as is often the case. The Republican National Committee stressed to the Associated Press, however, that the decision is not final and could still change.
The number of delegates who will be present at the convention had already been lowered from 2,550 to 336, and alternate delegates will not attend in person.
President Trump is expected to deliver his acceptance speech on Aug. 27, but it is unknown who or how many people will be physically present for the event.
Republican officials had planned to hold the live portion of the convention in Jacksonville, Florida after coronavirus restrictions threatened to force them to scale back events originally scheduled for Charlotte, North Carolina.
Several top Republicans in Congress have already announced that they won’t attend the convention, as have as other GOP leaders such Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, the Examiner said.
DNC makes plans
There has been nothing to suggest that the press will be excluded from covering the Democratic National Convention, which is set to take place Aug. 17–20.
Democratic delegates will be attending the party convention and casting their votes in virtual fashion, and fewer than 300 people will actually be in attendance, according to the Democrat-Gazette.
It is going to be a strange campaign season indeed, with large events in many states still restricted, and it remains to be seen how the current limitations will benefit or harm each candidate — though they are believed to hurt Trump more than presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden, given the former’s penchant for holding massive, stadium-filling rallies.
The skeptics among us might suggest that Democrats may be strategically exaggerating the risks of COVID-19 as a means to deny Trump his preferred mode of communication with American voters and keep Biden confined in his basement, away from the intense scrutiny of the campaign trail.