WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump said Monday that his acceptance speech for the Republican President nomination will be held either at the White House or on the Gettysburg Battlefield as he is looking for a symbolic replacement for his virus-sunk plans for an arena – Celebration seeks.
The president's initial hopes that the event could be a four-day advertisement for his re-election offer have been steadily curtailed by the coronavirus pandemic, culminating in his decision last month to abandon almost the entire in-person process. Over the past few weeks, Trump and his staff have been looking for alternatives that will allow him to recreate at least part of the pomp of the event.
"We have limited the presidential nomination acceptance speech due to be held on the last night of the convention (Thursday) to two locations – the Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the White House, Washington, DC," tweeted Trump on Monday.
He added that a decision on the location of the speech would be made shortly on August 27.
We have limited the presidential nomination acceptance speech to be delivered on the last night of the convention (Thursday) to two locations – the Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the White House, Washington, DC. We will announce the decision soon!
– Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2020
Both locations are federally owned and raise legal and ethical issues for their use in a political event. The president does not fall under the Hatch Act, which bans the political activity of almost all federal employees, although the White House and other federal officials who support the event do.
The Pennsylvania Civil War battlefield could also revive the president's repeated defense of memorials to Confederate heroes.
Trump has previously reached out to national parks and monuments to host politically-minded events, including one on July 4 at the National Mall in 2019 and one at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota last month. In May, he gave an interview to Fox News at the Lincoln Memorial, which required special approval from his appointed Home Secretary, David Bernhardt.
Delivering a congressional address in Gettysburg, however, would go a step further and raise questions about the politicization of the site of the deadliest battle of the Civil War.
Trump has spoken openly of his predilection for President Abraham Lincoln, whose brief address dedicated to the national cemetery for Union soldiers in 1863 pinpointed the cause of death. But Trump has repeatedly wooed controversy in office by opposing efforts to remove Confederate flag displays and not harshly condemn white supremacists.
The Republican National Convention was originally slated for Charlotte, North Carolina, before Trump moved it to Jacksonville, Florida in June in hopes that the Republican-led state would achieve its goal of having thousands of masked-off supporters cheering its renomination , would be more accessible. But when a wave of new coronavirus cases hit the sun belt, Trump was forced to abandon that process last month.
Now, almost the entire convention is being held virtually, with the exception of a formal vote on the renomination on August 24th in Charlotte by just a few hundred delegates, who cast proxies for those unable to meet in person.
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