Sources are reporting the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, a grand historic federal building, will serve as a “central hub” for speeches at the 2020 Republican National Convention being held August 24-27, 2020. Over the years, the building’s column-lined ballroom has been the location for a variety of notable moments — from the signing ceremony of the North American Treaty Organization to scenes for the walk-and-talk political drama “The West Wing.” And now it will serve as a key site for a pandemic-upended 2020 Republican National Convention.
The convention will spread out across several properties in, and around, Washington. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to deliver their acceptance speeches at the White House — as the Republicans scramble to rework the event following a resurgence of the coronavirus.
More than 300 delegates will still gather in Charlotte, the official host city of the Republican National Convention, on the first day to officially nominate President Donld J. Trump for president. But most other in-person activities will be held in Washington, including some of the four nights of prime-time speeches. The events that had been moved to Jacksonville, Fla., were cancelled last month as the state grapples with a surge in corona virus cases.
Social distancing guidelines in the nation’s capital currently limit gatherings to 50 people. Federal buildings are exempt from this restrictions but no large gatherings are expected. “There will be no large crowds or audiences at Mellon Auditorium,” sources say.
The theme of this year’s convention will be “honoring the great American story,” according to sources, and will include events that recognize Americans who have been helped by Trump’s accomplishments.
Each of the four nights, starting Aug. 24, is expected to include both in-person and virtual speakers, as well as live and taped appearances. In addition to speeches from the president and vice president, First Lady Melania Trump is expected to speak, as is Charlie Kirk, president and founder of the conservative student group Turning Point USA, according to a person familiar with the plans during prime time from 8:30-11:00 ET.
The Republican National Convention staff, which works with the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, is still finalizing plans and officials have yet to announce the formal speaker lineup.
Meanwhile, President Trump said Thursday that he plans to deliver his acceptance speech on the fourth and final night of the convention from the White House. “It’s a place that makes me feel good. It makes the country feel good,” Trump told the New York Post in an interview.
President Trump is also quoted as having also considered the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa., the site of President Abraham Lincoln’s famous address, but said he would visit it at a later date. “The White House would be much easier, from the standpoint of Secret Service and, you know, the movement of hundreds of people,” he told reporters Wednesday at the White House “I love Gettysburg, but … this is simpler. It would be magnificent. The White House is the White House.”
For his acceptance speech, Vice-President Pence is considering Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., best known as the site of a major battle in the War of 1812, The Washington Post reported.
The Mellon auditorium is owned by the U.S. government but available for public use. The RNC has rented the auditorium in the past, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Yet the Mellon auditorium’s proximity to the Trump hotel will still draw scrutiny to Trump’s financial arrangements. The hotel that the Trump Organization put on the market last year, but they still aren’t satisfied.