On Tuesday he said during an interview with MSNBC that it was “hard to envision” the convention taking place as scheduled. The next day he was more forceful, telling the host of “The Tonight Show,” Jimmy Fallon, “I think it’s going to have to move into August.”
“That was all he needed to do,” said Leah Daughtry, who was the chief executive of the 2008 and 2016 Democratic conventions. “When the person who’s the front-runner, and who most people consider to be the person who’s going to get the nomination, expresses that strong an opinion, I think everybody has to pay attention.”
Changing the date of the convention will be a daunting logistical feat, requiring the rebooking of thousands of hotel rooms, among other difficulties. But trying to keep the July dates loomed as more challenging because of the uncertainty the virus cast over the preparations; it typically takes several weeks to set up a venue with a stage and make the other arrangements necessary to hold a convention.
The arena, Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum, and a nearby convention center are both available the week of Aug. 17, but they are booked the week before with the annual convention of the insurer Northwestern Mutual.
“This is the right decision for the safety of those involved in the convention and for Milwaukee,” said Alex Lasry, a senior official with the Milwaukee Bucks who led the city’s convention bid. “An August convention will provide a much-needed economic boost for Milwaukee and Wisconsin as we come out of this unprecedented time.”
There is no guarantee that the crisis will be over by August, and travel could still be difficult or even dangerous for some. One of Mr. Biden’s strongest constituencies is older Americans, the population most vulnerable to the virus, and the lingering effects of the outbreak could still have an effect on which delegates are able to travel.
While Mr. Biden has a nearly insurmountable delegate lead over Senator Bernie Sanders, his last remaining rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, he cannot take formal control over convention planning until he clinches the nomination or Mr. Sanders drops out of the race.