Democrats delay presidential convention until August, citing coronavirus

Politics

FILE PHOTO: Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about responses to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Democratic Party on Thursday postponed its presidential nominating convention by a month until August, citing the coronavirus health crisis which has upended life in the country.

The delay is the latest sign the coronavirus pandemic is having a profound impact on the presidential race and will continue to do so for months to come.

Democrats will use the convention in Milwaukee to formally pick their nominee to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November election. It had previously been scheduled for July.

“In our current climate of uncertainty, we believe the smartest approach is to take additional time to monitor how this situation unfolds,” said Joe Solmonese, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee.

With much of the country under stay-at-home orders from local and state authorities, presidential campaigning has largely moved online, and many states have delayed votes for party nomination contests.

Democratic front-runner Joe Biden on Wednesday had called for delaying the convention, speaking in a television interview from what he called a “makeshift studio” in the recreation room of his Wilmington, Delaware, home.

Biden, who was vice president under President Barack Obama, currently leads the Democratic nominating contest against his rival, Bernie Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont.

White House medical experts have forecast that even if Americans hunker down in their homes to slow the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus, some 100,000 to 240,000 people could die from the disease.

Already, some 5,340 Americans have died and over 225,510 cases have been confirmed, according to a Reuters tally.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis

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