President Donald Trump has a surprise for Joe Biden ready — and the former vice president is going to be furious with the news.
Should the current election results hold and Trump’s legal challenges fail, he’s planning to one-up Biden on Inauguration Day.
While Biden is being sworn in as the 46th president, the 45th is going to pull a stunt only Trump can manage. He’s mused with aides about taking off from the White House on Marine One, then flying on Air Force One from Washington, D.C. to Florida for a Trump 2024 campaign rally.
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Then he would begin his new role: Biden’s unofficial critic-in-chief.
“The Trump talk could create a split-screen moment: the outgoing president addressing a roaring crowd in an airport hangar while the incoming leader is sworn in before a socially distanced audience outside the Capitol,” Axios reported.
Considering the low-key Inauguration plans, Trump could outshine Biden on his first day in office.
While lots of details are still to be worked out, this Jan. 20 is sure to be more subdued than prior inauguration days.
A giant parade down Pennsylvania Avenue? Not likely.
Fancy balls? They may morph into virtual events.
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The traditional luncheon where lawmakers offer best wishes to the new president? It might not include food this year.
What about the swearing-in itself? The inaugural platform on the Capitol’s West Front is going up just like always, but it probably won’t be as crowded.
“I think you’re going to see something that’s closer to what the convention was like than a typical inauguration,” Biden said Friday, referring to the all-virtual event that marked his nomination last summer. “First and foremost, in my objective, is to keep America safe but still allow people to celebrate — to celebrate and see one another celebrate.”
For their convention, Democrats pulled together an awkward made-for-TV mashup of homemade videos, speeches from classrooms and living rooms, and music played from afar, narrated by celebrity hosts.
Biden’s swearing-in itself will not be virtual. But guests should be prepared to socially distance and wear a mask. Lawmakers are also considering requiring a COVID-19 test for anyone on the platform near the president-elect, said Paige Waltz, a spokesperson for the joint congressional committee charged with overseeing the event.
The VIP platform can hold 1,600 people. Lawmakers also generally distribute tickets for positions nearby. While no hard decisions have been made, the committee is looking at cutting the numbers on both accounts.
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“My guess is there will still be a platform ceremony,” Biden said. “But I don’t know exactly how it’s all going to work out. The key is keeping people safe. I can’t do a super version of the president’s announcement in the Rose Garden.”
That was an apparent shot at President Donald Trump’s Rose Garden introduction of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, where some of his political allies contracted the coronavirus.
Biden’s play-it-safe approach to the coronavirus during his campaign offers clues about what to expect in terms of inaugural modifications.
He said Friday that a “gigantic inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue” was unlikely, although a big reviewing stand is being constructed in front of the White House.
No decisions have been made on whether the official inaugural balls should go forward. Some advocacy groups already are going virtual with their galas, including the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization.
Meanwhile, in Florida, Trump’s rally would offer a sharp contrast to the small inauguration with a huge crowd of energized supporters ready to back their candidate of choice in the next presidential election.
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Work to build the inaugural platform at the Capitol and the White House reviewing stand began before the Nov. 3 election, as is traditional. New this year: Congressional planners have invited lawmakers to record video messages for the president-elect and vice president-elect that can be played on Jumbotrons before the swearing-in.
Biden reportedly wants Trump to attend. When asked recently, he said it’s important for the United States to show that competing party leaders can stand together, shake hands and move on. “It is totally his decision, and it’s of no personal consequence to me. But I do think it is for the country,” he told CNN.
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The Associated Press contributed to this article