President-Elect Joe Biden’s January inauguration will be unlike those of previous presidents, his chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday, adding that the celebrations will use “scaled-down versions of the existing traditions,” in order to keep attendees safe as coronavirus infections ramp up across most of the country.
“Obviously, this is not going to be the same kind of inauguration we’ve had in the past,” Klain told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning, adding that the president-elect’s transition team has begun consulting with leadership from the House and Senate for the inauguration ceremony and festivities.
“They’re going to try to have an inauguration that honors the importance and the symbolic meaning of the moment, but also does not result in the spread of the disease. That’s our goal,” Klain said.
The future White House chief of staff didn’t drop details about if Americans can still expect any of the usual fanfare like a parade or lunch with lawmakers at the Capitol, saying the team is still working on the plans.
He did say that August’s National Democratic Convention succeeded in being both “effective and engaging” despite much of it taking place virtually, and that the inauguration will likely feature some of those components.
“It was safe for the people to participate and watch in a way that communicated with the American people,” Klain told Stephanopoulos. “I think [the inauguration will] have some mix of those techniques [and] some mix of scaled-down versions of the existing traditions.”
“People have a lot to celebrate on January 20th. We saw the day Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were announced as president and vice-president of the United States, people all over the world, and particularly in America, dancing in the streets,” he said. “We just want to do it as safely as possible.”
Unlike President Donald Trump, who held in-person rallies throughout the duration of his presidential campaign (which were linked to more than 700 coronavirus deaths, according to one study) Biden ran a more socially distanced campaign. Trump is known to have a fixation on crowd sizes: in the wake of his 2017 inauguration and consistently since then, he and his administration have repeatedly claimed the president has pulled larger crowds than in reality. Trump continues to deny that Biden won the election, baselessly claiming widespread voter fraud.