Biden’s Virus-Focused Campaign Could Last to Inauguration Day: Social Distancing over Big Crowds

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks with members of the audience as he leaves a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28, 2020.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

The inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States could mimic his low energy campaign style which included drive-in rallies, scant public appearances, and socially distanced press conferences.

The structure being built for the ceremony can hold 1,600 spectators and the reviewing stand being constructed in front of the White House will be ready for crowds as will the National Mall where hundreds of thousands turned up to witness President Donald Trump take the oath of office.

But those inside the Biden camp are hinting his would-be inauguration will look much different, according to the New York Times:

In a statement Monday, the newly appointed chief executive of Biden’s inaugural committee hinted at the looming balancing act between health and politics.

“We will honor the American inaugural traditions and engage Americans across the country while keeping everybody healthy and safe,” said Tony Allen, the president of Delaware State University and the committee’s chief executive.

The organizers are determined that Biden take the oath of office and deliver an address to the nation outside the West Front of the Capitol, preserving an iconic tableau that has often set the tone for a new presidency. But to make it happen, they are likely to slash the number of officials flanking Biden. Those who do make the cut — Supreme Court justices, former presidents, top House and Senate leaders and the Joint Chiefs of Staff among them — will be required to socially distance and wear masks. Some may be asked to take coronavirus tests.

While Congress usually distributes about 200,000 seats, that number could be cut significantly, according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who is in charge of overseeing planning for the event.

“While the pandemic will make this inauguration look different than previous years, we are committed to creating a safe ceremony that reflects the significance of the occasion,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MI), Blunt’s Democratic counterpart, said in a statement.

“Given the worsening pandemic, it is unclear whether Biden might seek to proactively discourage Americans from traveling to the nation’s capital to witness the inauguration in person by gathering on the Mall in the shadow of the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial,” the Times reported. “After spending months warning about the dangers of hosting large gatherings indoors — and criticizing Trump for doing so — Biden is unlikely to host fancy inaugural balls where hundreds of supporters are crammed into ballrooms.

But Biden is still raising money for the big day, according to the Times “he would welcome donations from wealthy individuals and corporations.”

Biden’s team said it would accept donations of up to $500,000 from individuals and up to $1 million from corporations, an official involved in the planning told the Times.

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