A coalition committed to the protection and preservation of national parks and monuments in the United States on Tuesday strongly rebuked the suggestion by President Donald Trump that he might use the historic battlefield at Gettysburg to deliver his acceptance speech for the presidential nomination by the Republican Party later this month.
"It is profoundly inappropriate to stage a high profile and partisan political event, such as a major political party's presidential nomination acceptance speech, at Gettysburg National Military Park, a hallowed site that belongs to all Americans," said Phil Francis, chair of the Coalition to Protect America's National Parks, said in a statement.
Based on its objections, the Coalition send a letter (pdf) to Acting Director of the National Park Service, David Vela, urging against such a move by the president.
"We strongly object to President Trump's proposal to hold his Republican presidential nomination acceptance speech at this sacred battlefield," Francis said in his public statement. "Using national park sites such as Gettysburg National Military Park or the White House as the setting for a campaign speech and having federal employees participate in partisan political activities raises numerous legal concerns and appears to be in conflict with the Park Service's own regulations and policies related to special events in parks. We cannot allow major partisan political events to occur on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg National Military Park or in any other unit of the National Park System."
Other critics have also spoken out against Trump's floating the idea that he could use the Gettysburg battlefield as a backdrop for his speech.
"Applicable law does provide a variety of technical exemptions, which a clever lawyer might stitch together to claim that this is permissible," Norman L. Eisen, former White House ethics chief ethics czar in the administration, told the New York Times on Monday. "But those loopholes do not contemplate an event of this highly partisan nature of this scope and scale, and the forced political labor of the hundreds, if not thousands, of federal personnel."
In addition to Gettysburg, Trump floated the idea of accepting the nomination from the White House—a move that would also be a gross violation of tradition and one met with condemnation by critics who said the White House is not to be used a backdrop for partisan campaigns.
The president hasn’t committed to giving his acceptance speech at the White House. But his nearby hotel has conspicuously begun charging way more for the weekend it’s scheduled. https://t.co/wNvjjpAzmd
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) August 11, 2020
"There are many other far more appropriate venues for the President to give his acceptance speech," said Francis. "Our national parks should not be exploited for political gain. They are meant to be enjoyed by all Americans, regardless of party affiliation or politics."