As Wisconsin Democrats gathered on the morning of August 17 for a “virtual breakfast” to launch a drastically scaled-back Democratic National Convention, they blamed President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic for the convention’s transition to a mostly virtual event.
U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin was one of several top state Democrats to speak at the online event, the first of many scheduled for this week. The convention was once expected to bring about 50,000 people and $200 million to Milwaukee, but its in-person agenda in the city has been significantly reduced because of COVID-19 concerns.
The event now includes mostly virtual gatherings and speeches streamed from other parts of the country. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will deliver his remarks from his home state of Delaware. During the August 17 virtual welcome event, Baldwin laid the convention’s withdrawal from Milwaukee at Trump’s feet.
“The mismanagement and total, utter failure of leadership during a pandemic is laid out starkly — and it’s why we’re, responsibly, holding our convention virtually,” Senator Baldwin said.
The senator noted Trump will hold an in-person campaign event in Oshkosh Monday and that Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to campaign in person in Darien on Wednesday. She called the events “unsafe.”
“I don’t know if they’ll be wearing masks,” Senator Baldwin said. “I hope they follow the mask guidelines we have in our state.”
Senator Baldwin’s comments echoed the sentiments of Governor Tony Evers last week, that the president and vice president should “wear a freakin’ mask” when they campaign in Wisconsin.
About 200 people tuned into the virtual welcome breakfast on Monday morning, which also included comments from Evers, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley, and U.S. Representative Gwen Moore.
Evers showed the camera his Egg McMuffin breakfast sandwich, a daily standard for the governor.
“It’s not what we planned, but this is going to be a great convention,” he said.
Governor Evers is scheduled to speak at the convention during its primetime schedule on Wednesday evening, August 19. Congresswoman Moore spoke Monday evening, August 17, and Senator Baldwin is scheduled for the final day of the convention onThursday, August 20.
During his remarks, Mayor Barrett said he had been looking forward to welcoming convention attendees to Milwaukee for years.
“As we all recognize, it’s not exactly what we thought it was going to be, but what we’ve been forced to deal with,” he said. “We’ve been forced to deal with the reality that we have a pandemic unlike we’ve seen in our lifetime.”
The mayor, speaking to attendees from a remote location in a room by himself, welcomed virtual convention attendees “to Milwaukee” regardless.
“I wish you were here spending all of your money, but you can come at any time,” Mayor Barrett added. “We’re going to leave the lights on.”
Originally published on Wisconsin Public Radio as Wisconsin Democrats Blame President Donald Trump For Virtual Convention