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Trump says he is considering the 'great battlefield' at Gettysburg for his convention speech

WASHINGTON — President Trump tweeted on Monday that he is choosing between two locations, Gettysburg, Pa., and the White House, for his speech accepting the Republican nomination, scheduled for the night of Aug. 27.

“We have narrowed the Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, to be delivered on the final night of the Convention (Thursday), to two locations - The Great Battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the White House, Washington, D.C,” Trump wrote, adding, “We will announce the decision soon!”

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US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One prior to departure from Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 25, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he walks on the South Lawn after arriving on Marine One at the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

TOPSHOT - US President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 25, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn after arriving on Marine One at the White House, Thursday, June 25, 2020, in Washington. Trump is returning from Wisconsin. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: President Donald J. Trump signs an executive order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities in the Rose Garden at the White House on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump gestures following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, June 25, 2020. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

MARINETTE, WISCONSIN - JUNE 25: US President Donald Trump speaks to workers during a visit to the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard on June 25, 2020 in Marinette, Wisconsin. The company was recently awarded a $5.5 billion contract to build ships for the U.S. Navy. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

TULSA, USA - JUNE 20: U.S. President Donald Trump meet his supporters at his ''Make America Great Again'' rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States on June 20, 2020. (Photo by Kyle Mazza/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

TULSA, OK - JUNE 20: President Donald J. Trump speaks during a "Make America Great Again!" rally at the BOK Center on Saturday, June 20, 2020 in Tulsa, OK. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for an event in the Rose Garden on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”, at the White House June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed an executive order on police reform amid the growing calls after the death of George Floyd. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as members of law enforcement look on during an event in the Rose Garden on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”, at the White House June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump signed an executive order on police reform amid the growing calls after the death of George Floyd. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, June 16, 2020. (Photo by Saul LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 16: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event in the Rose Garden on “Safe Policing for Safe Communities”, at the White House June 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump will sign an executive order on police reform amid the growing calls after the death of George Floyd. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable on “Fighting for America’s Seniors” at the Cabinet Room of the White House June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump participated in the roundtable to discuss the administration’s efforts to “safeguard America’s senior citizens” from COVID-19. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable on “Fighting for America’s Seniors” at the Cabinet Room of the White House June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump participated in the roundtable to discuss the administration’s efforts to “safeguard America’s senior citizens” from COVID-19. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: U.S. President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable on “Fighting for America’s Seniors” at the Cabinet Room of the White House June 15, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump participated in the roundtable to discuss the administration’s efforts to “safeguard America’s senior citizens” from COVID-19. (Photo by Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting on seniors in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC, June 15, 2020. - President Donald Trump holds a roundtable discussion with senior citizens called Fighting for Americas Seniors on Monday. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable meeting on seniors in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC, June 15, 2020. - President Donald Trump holds a roundtable discussion with senior citizens called Fighting for Americas Seniors on Monday. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable meeting on seniors in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC, June 15, 2020. - President Donald Trump holds a roundtable discussion with senior citizens called Fighting for Americas Seniors on Monday. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump speaks during an event on police reform, in the Rose Garden of the White House, Tuesday, June 16, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable about America's seniors, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable about America's seniors, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Sunday, June 14, 2020, after stepping off Marine One as he returns from his golf club in New Jersey. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Gettysburg was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, when in 1863 over 50,000 Union and Confederate troops were killed. The battle was a crucial turning point in the war as Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s efforts to invade the North were halted. Months later, the battle inspired one of the most famous political speeches in American history, when President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address and praised those who died in support of efforts to keep the country united despite Southern attempts to secede. 

Trump previously suggested in an interview on Aug. 5 that he might deliver the speech from the White House. Plans for the Republican National Convention have repeatedly been scaled back due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s idea of using the White House prompted criticism — including from some Republican senators — that it would be a violation of the Hatch Act, a 1939 law that limits partisan activity by federal employees. The president has insisted it would be “legal” for him to deliver a convention speech from the White House complex. Since Trump took office, ethics officials have found multiple officials in his administration to be in violation of the act, but there have been few legal consequences. 

The Republican convention, which will be capped by Trump’s speech formally accepting the party’s presidential nomination, was originally scheduled for Charlotte, N.C. Trump moved it to Jacksonville, Fla., after North Carolina’s Democratic governor said the event would need to be scaled down due to the pandemic. Late last month, Trump announced the plans for events in Florida would be scrapped due to surging coronavirus cases there. 

This will be the first election since 1944 in which neither of the major party candidates speaks from the site of the party’s convention. Democrats announced in late June that their convention, planned for Milwaukee, would be largely virtual. On Aug. 5, the Democratic National Convention Committee announced that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, would make his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware. 

Gettysburg is a highly symbolic choice, particularly amid the renewed debate over racial issues that has gripped the country in recent months. Black Lives Matter protesters who have called for police reform have also sought to topple Confederate monuments in multiple cities. Trump has actively opposed the removal of Confederate monuments and specifically sought to prevent the removal of statues of Lee, who led the Southern military forces during the Civil War. 

At her briefing on Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked what message the president aimed to send with the potential Gettysburg site. She declined to answer apart from suggesting Trump hopes to highlight efforts he’s made to unify the country amid “unprecedented challenges.” 

“I won’t get ahead of the president as to what his convention speech will look like, but the president has done a lot to bring this country together,” McEnany said, adding, “He has a strong record of achievement that he’ll be touting on that day.” 

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