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The White House Is Not a Political Convention Hall

Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen

Note: President Donald Trump on Wednesday said on “Fox & Friends” that he plans on making his acceptance speech at the close of the Republican Nominating Convention from the White House. The scaled-down convention will take place Aug. 24 – 27 and will not be attended by Trump. This news comes after Trump moved the convention out of Charlotte, N.C. – because city officials scaled down convention plans in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic – to Jacksonville, Fla., where officials had promised Trump a large audience. Trump later canceled the Jacksonville event, reportedly out of fear of spreading the virus.

Trump may not attend the on-again, off-again convention in Charlotte, but he announced plans to give his acceptance speech from the White House.

This has never, ever been done before – and for good reason. The White House is the seat of American government, the government for all Americans. The White House is the people’s house – not the headquarters of the Republican Party or the office of the re-election campaign of Donald Trump.

To be clear, it has long been accepted that the president and top aides can conduct political and partisan activities from the White House. But the idea of denigrating the White House by turning it into a partisan backdrop for a party nomination acceptance speech should be anathema to all Americans. If you doubt that for a moment, just imagine a president from a party you oppose doing it, and what your reaction would be.