Hello. Welcome to On Politics, your guide to the day in national politics. I am Lisa Lerer, your host.
As my colleague Astead Herndon said today, is it still a convention for nobody to meet?
For decades, the national party congresses have been a place where political careers can be started or laughed off the stage. Where connections are made and businesses cut. Where you learn that yes, you can survive for four days without sleep, 17,000 diet sodas and the incomparable thrill that comes when you are introduced to someone you have met every four years for the past two decades.
This year, the conventions could be a lesson in learning how to use this mute button when zooming.
Today, the Democrats announced that their convention would be almost entirely virtual. At the advice of health officials working for the party, Joe Biden plans to accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware and refrain from traveling to the host city of the congress, Milwaukee.
So much of this extraordinary campaign season has put the Shibboleths to the test of American politics. How important is knocking on the door? What about campaign rallies? Or even visit important battlefield countries?
Now we will see if Americans are really interested in a big, expensive blowout that has been part of the political firmament for decades.
Conventions are not easy or inexpensive matters. All of these balloons are not cheap: Four years ago, both parties grossed more than $ 100 million in private donations and tax dollars.
It is a bad time for the campaign officials, employees and party believers present. History is watched for four days, along with a lot of partying, networking and politics.
"They start in high heels and end up in flip-flops," Senator Kamala Harris told me a few weeks ago, citing her decades of experience in democratic congresses. "People sing and they dance and they cry, and it's all the emotions that come with taking care of your country and wanting to fight to make it better."
There are flares, typically in the form of debates over the party platform and a slight uprising by activists over the candidate. But the nomination is almost always completed weeks before the congress. (When I wrote an article this year about the possibility of a controversial convention, I heard a lot of grumbling from democratic activists who complained that I was devoted to fantasy politics. They had one point: finding the party's last controversial convention 1952. when the candidate was Adlai Stevenson.)
Basically, the reward for all this work and expenditure is a television audience of millions, newly motivated supporters, and a short-lived bump in the polls.
With Americans spending more time at home, the audience could easily be larger than the 32 million people who saw Donald J. Trump's acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican Congress. Political strategists, however, expect the volatile voting results to be lower.
This could have happened under better circumstances: in the last few cycles, the "convention fluctuations" have decreased, most likely due to our polarized policies. In general, there are fewer swing voters, so fewer people can convince with a lively show.
The lack of a great summer opportunity to change the race's trajectory is part of the reason the Trump campaign has started pushing for further debates. Today, his lawyer Rudy Giuliani asked the Presidential Debate Commission to add a fourth matchup to the calendar. According to Mr. Giuliani, eight million Americans in 16 states will have started voting by September 29 if the candidates are to meet for the first debate.
Regarding his congress, Mr. Trump has implemented the idea of accepting the nomination from the White House lawn after he decided last month to cancel the Jacksonville, Florida event.
"It is the simplest alternative. I think it is a nice alternative," he said in an interview today about "Fox & Friends" and prompted the congressional leaders of both parties, who questioned the legality of such a spectacle, to immediately condemn it.
For the candidates, the downgrading of their conventions is probably comparable to the cancellation of their bar mitzvah, quinceañeras and Christmas morning.
Mr. Trump refused to let his dream of an abnormal event die for months – and even moved him from North Carolina to Florida in hopes of escaping the coronavirus restrictions.
And few know conventions better than Mr. Biden, who has been visiting them for decades. Even though he told donors today that it was "right" to go away, the prospect of delivering the greatest speech of his life from home must be a disappointment.
At least this feeling will surely appeal to voters. In our corona virus days, disappointment has become far more reliable than drinking a beer.
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McConnell sniffs critics who say he's sitting out here
my colleague Carl Hulse, a Capitol Hill Press Corps legend, was just talking to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to discuss pandemic relief negotiations. Mr. McConnell is currently between vulnerable Republicans who are desperate to pass laws and other Republicans who cannot do anything.
Here's what Carl heard from Mr. McConnell:
When asked today about the Democrats' criticism that McConnell had relegated himself to the sideline for not participating in personal negotiations on the pandemic relief package, McConnell had a biting response.
"There is no need to sit there and listen to Pelosi and Schumer 's talks, which stands in the way of serious discussion," he said, referring to spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer from New York, the democratic leader in Talks are with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, chief of staff of the White House. "Meadows and Mnuchin don't hide the ball from me and I don't hide the ball from my colleagues."
In the past, Mr. McConnell famously said that he couldn't stand being taught by Barack Obama as president. Attending the talks between Democrats and the White House is counterproductive at this point.
"This particular approach offers the best chance of getting a result without all the sparring that inevitably results from sitting opposite Nancy and Chuck," said McConnell.
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