President Donald Trump said he is considering delivering his Republican convention acceptance speech from the White House in a move that would mark an unprecedented use of public property for partisan political purposes.
Mr Trump also called for the first formal presidential debate, scheduled for September 29, to be moved up on the calendar because early voting will have already begun in some states.
“Well, we’re thinking about it,” Mr Trump said when the hosts of Fox News Channel’s Fox & Friends asked whether he would deliver a speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination from the White House lawn.
Mr Trump said doing so would be “easiest from the standpoint of security” and the least expensive option because he wouldn’t have to leave the building.
“It’s a beautiful setting. I think it’s a great place,” Mr Trump said of the White House during a wide-ranging telephone interview.
Mr Trump had planned to deliver the speech in Jacksonville, Florida, after moving some elements of the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, because of health restrictions the state’s Democratic governor put in place because of coronavirus.
But Mr Trump recently cancelled the Florida portions of the convention because of the resurgence of coronavirus in that state, essentially limiting his options with the clock ticking.
The Republican convention is scheduled for August 24-27, with Mr Trump’s speech capping the final night.
Mr Trump said in the Fox News interview that the convention will be a mix of virtual events and live speeches, including his remarks and a speech by first lady Melania Trump.
The Washington Post had reported that Republican officials were considering using the White House South Lawn to stage Mr Trump’s acceptance speech.
Mr Trump said it was among the options being considered but appeared to lean heavily into the idea of using it.
Presidents typically seek to hold their nominating conventions in a state seen as crucial to their chances of winning the election, but this year’s coronavirus outbreak has forced candidates to drastically change the way they campaign.
Presidents historically have treated the White House as a politics-free zone, though Mr Trump has shown disregard for many norms and customs of the presidency.
On the subject of debates, Mr Trump said he would favour more than just the three formal debates against likely Democratic nominee Joe Biden that are being planned by the Commission on Presidential Debates.
He also argued for moving up the first debate, now currently scheduled for September 29 in Cleveland, because some states will begin early voting in the beginning of September.