DNC Chairman Tom Perez on Friday sought to ease fears over the party’s plans to hold a majorly scaled down national convention in the midst of a pandemic next month, vowing that “we are putting nobody in harm’s way,” while preserving entertainment value.
“Safety is job [No.] 1 for us and that’s why it’ll be considerably smaller, but it will be no less inspiring, no less exciting,” Perez said in an interview on SiriusXM’s “The Joe Madison Show,” less than a day after President Donald Trump abruptly canceled in-person marquee events for the Republican National Convention because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are anchored in Milwaukee and we will have exciting programming in Milwaukee. The vice president will accept the nomination from Milwaukee,” Perez asserted. But he noted that this year’s Democratic National Convention, which will be nearly entirely virtual, is “gonna have a lot less people at it,” than in years past.
Earlier this summer, the party instructed delegates not to come to Milwaukee, after first delaying it from July to August, and is allowing delegates to vote for the presumptive nominee Joe Biden remotely from satellite “mini conventions.” Still, as cases of coronavirus continue to rise around the country, some Democrats have expressed pause about even holding the smaller gatherings.
While Perez insisted Friday that in-person events would still take place, he noted the party would hold the festivities in a smaller venue than originally planned, and that there was a focus on making the convention “made for TV.”
“We announced this months ago because the science was very clear that we could not safely put on a convention with those thousands of people in the arena,” Perez said, teasing an “exciting” lineup of convention speakers in addition to the former vice president.
The chairman maintained that the party was putting a premium on safety for those involved in the convention, telling host Joe Madison that their planning team included “two of the world’s most accomplished epidemiologists.” He also promised that convention planners were conducting “rigorous testing” of those on the ground, “so they’re not at risk, nobody else is at risk.”
But Perez also couldn’t resist taking a swipe at Trump, proclaiming that Democrats had been “following the science from the outset” and emphasizing that they had scaled down their convention far in advance of Republicans, who began doing so in earnest only in recent weeks before the president pulled the plug on the in-person event.
“We will honor the values of the Democratic Party,” Perez said of the DNC. “We will highlight the values of Joe Biden, and one of the values of Joe Biden is humility. Joe Biden doesn’t need the ego gratification of being surrounded by 20,000 people, and that is why we’re doing it in a safe way.”