Unconventional convention gets underway in Milwaukee

MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin gets a moment in the political spotlight starting Monday as the Democratic National Convention gets underway this week in Milwaukee.

Democrats have been planning for more than a year to host, and now, most of those plans have been scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DNC stage in Milwaukee will now serve mainly as a national control room at the Wisconsin Center by taking in video feeds from across the country as most speakers and delegates will now participate from home.

Wisconsin Democrats say the biggest loss of all: no convention-goers spending money in a city known for its beer and cheese.

"Had to make the shift to a virtual DNC without the economic impact, without people getting the chance to learn why we love this city so much," said Rep. David Bowen, a Democrat from Milwaukee.

For the first time, national conventions will look different as they shift to virtual due to concerns over COVID-19. Many Democrats believed 2020 was supposed to be the year of Milwaukee until the pandemic hit.

The DNC was originally expected to bring 50,000 people to the area and generate more than $200 million in economic impact.

DNC officials asked attendees to stay home. Joe Biden and running mate Kamala Harris will now accept their nomination virtually.

Battleground State Communications Director with the DNC David Bergstein said it's an unfortunate outcome but said the decision was something the party is embracing.

"Of course we would have like to have a larger economic footprint, but we are in a middle of a pandemic and we are going to follow the best advice and best guidance that medical professionals can give us," said Bergstein.

Republicans are taking a different approach by hosting in-person events in Wisconsin this week as the DNC gets underway.

President Donald Trump will be in Oshkosh Monday and Vice President Mike Pence will visit Darien, a village in Walworth County, on Wednesday.

"We are not going to take anything for granted," said Mercedes Schlapp, spokesperson for the Trump campaign. "It's going to take hard work and dedication to reach every single one of these voters to talk about the president’s hope and vision for American."

While hosting events in Wisconsin, the Trump campaign plans to tout the president's record on the economy and job creation.

Democrats throughout the week will focus heavily on how the Trump administration is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More at WKOW 27 News

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