U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he intended to give his speech accepting Republican presidential nomination at the White House lawn, drawing criticism by Democrats, according to U.S. media reports.
“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place. It’s a place that makes me feel good. It makes the country feel good,” the New York Post quoted Trump as saying in an exclusive interview.
The president earlier this week floated the idea of giving the speech at either the White House or Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the monumental battlefield in the American Civil War now transformed to a national military park.
Trump told the New York Post that he would visit Gettysburg at a later date. “We’d do it possibly outside on one of the lawns. We have various lawns, so we could have it outside,” Trump said, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a reason.
Trump’s intent to give the speech at the White House triggered criticism from the Democrats, who said it would be both illegal and unethical for the president to do so.
“Whether it’s legally wrong or ethically out of the question, it shouldn’t even have been something that was expressed,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday.
“For the President of the United States to degrade once again the White House, as he has done over and over again by saying he’s going to completely politicize it, is something that should be rejected right out of hand,” the California Democrat added.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over 5 million people and killed more than 160,000 in the United States, has forced the Republican Party to scale back its national convention — scheduled for Aug. 24-27 — by moving most of the activities online and only holding some business meetings in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Trump scrapped the part of the Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, Florida, due to skyrocketing COVID-19 caseloads in the state.
He originally planned to give the acceptance speech there on the last day of the convention.
The president still insisted on having a big crowd of supporters at his speech, telling the New York Post that “it’s very big, a very big lawn. We could have a big group of people.”