While campaigning in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, President Donald Trump announced Monday that he plans to deliver his nomination acceptance speech at the White House, even though it is not supposed to be used for partisan political events.
Trump will address GOP supporters at the finale of the all-virtual Republican National Convention on Aug. 27 in a speech that will set the stage for a battle for four more years in power.
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel gave the green light to speak from the White House, saying the president and vice president don’t have to follow the Hatch Act, a law enacted in 1939 the prohibits all employees in the executive branch of the federal government from engaging in certain political activities.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., last week bluntly warned Trump not to try to use the White House. “He can’t do that,” she insisted.
Trump had said he was considering delivering the speech at the Gettysburg National Battlefield in central Pennsylvania.
But critics pointed out that the battlefield backdrop might remind many Americans of the president’s defense of monuments to Confederate generals, who were fighting against the victorious Union Army in that pivotal Civil War battle.
The saga of Trump’s RNC speech has mirrored the controversy surrounding the convention itself.
First, it was planned for Charlotte, in the swing state of North Carolina. But Trump decided to move the whole convention after the state’s Democratic governor warned him that social distancing and mask-wearing rules would be enforced to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Trump decided to move it Jacksonville, Florida, which has a Republican mayor and governor.
It was originally planned for an arena in Jacksonville, but that idea was scrapped when even GOP loyalists questioned whether it was safe to attend.
Outdoors in the muggy Florida heat was an option for a few days, but then even local Republican officials warned Trump the event could not be held safely.
The president, who has stubbornly resisted coronavirus safety measures, eventually agreed to hold the RNC online.