Republican National Convention planners, seeking to make up for a convention with much less of the pomp of the past, are now considering the South Lawn of the White House as a backdrop to President Donald Trump as he delivers his nomination acceptance speech, the Washington Post reported.
People involved in the planning told the Post that a final decision had not yet been made on the location of the Republican convention’s celebratory events. But a move to hold a convention speech on White House grounds would break with precedent to at least attempt to distinguish between official presidential business and campaign events.
Trump confirmed the possibility Wednesday morning in a Fox & Friends interview, saying it represented the “easiest alternative.”
“It would be by far the least expensive from the country’s standpoint because it really is, it’s a big deal when you get up and move all of this apparatus,” Trump said.
The consideration of the South Lawn for the GOP acceptance speech follows earlier botched plans to hold the full convention in Charlotte, and then Jacksonville, decisions that were trashed amid criticism that large crowds would likely worsen coronavirus outbreaks in those states.
The Trump International Hotel in D.C., has also been floated as a potential site for the week’s festivities, the Post said. Officials told the Post that the President leases the hotel from the federal government and costs incurred by the government to host the events would be repaid.
The fraught decision about where Trump will deliver a formal speech to accept the GOP nomination and culminate the convention’s programming is complicated by earlier disappointments that the President would not be able to hold a convention with all of the bells and whistles of the past amid the coronavirus pandemic. While the RNC has said it will still hold official meetings on August 24 in Charlotte to nominate Trump, there are still three more days of speeches and programming from undetermined sites ahead of Trump’s acceptance speech scheduled for August 27.
According to The New York Times, a White House official said that Trump has been leaning toward a string of speeches that could be delivered outdoors in various places with a stage serving as the main hub throughout the week in Washington. The Times also reported Monday that a Trump speech from within the White House was also being considered.
With some exceptions, federal law typically prevents government property from being used for political purposes, but the Hatch Act, which prevents many federal officials from certain forms of political activity at work, exempts both the president and the vice president from any restrictions.