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Democratic National Convention: What You Need to Know

A year ripe with crises and surprises gives America a remarkable sight to behold: an all-virtual presidential nominating convention.

Originally scheduled to gather in Milwaukee in mid-July, the gathering will consisting of online party meetings, events and speeches.

This will be the first time the party will not show up in person to nominate a candidate for president since 1832 (Republicans, who have their convention next week, last failed to do so in 1856).


Where to watch?

The convention will still be “anchored” in Milwaukee. This is where Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez will be.

Speakers will deliver remarks, many of them pre-taped, from various locations, as the 495 delegates cast their ballots remotely.

The event – renamed the “Convention Across America” – will stream live at the DNC’s website, YouTube and Facebook. It will be condensed to just two hours of prime time programming on each night from Monday to Thursday due to concerns over the coronavirus.

Broadcasters ABC, CBS and NBC will devote just one hour of coverage of the primetime segments on each of the four nights.



Who will speak?

The line-up attempts to reflect the wide coalition assembled by Joe Biden and ranges from “progressives” and “moderates” to party elders.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, of course, will be the headliners. Biden will accept the party’s nomination after a once-stalled campaign that saw him unite the moderates and secure the backing of Bernie Sanders.

He will speak from his home state of Delaware on Thursday, the final night of the convention.

Harris, the first black woman to run for vice president on a major party ticket, will take a virtual podium from the Chase Centre in Wilmington on Wednesday.


Democratic U.S. vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris speaks to reporters with Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden after they received a briefing on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic from public health experts during a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., August 13, 2020.

Bernie Sanders will appear on Monday. The Vermont senator has worked to veer the party agenda toward the left in recent months, via a joint task force with Biden, but his main goal now is to convince young and Latino voters to flock to his rival.

A number of Biden’s other former primary rivals will have speaking roles too. These include Amy Klobuchar (Monday), Elizabeth Warren (Wednesday), Cory Booker and Pete Buttigieg (both on Thursday).

Two couples with likely steal much of the spotlight: the Clintons and the Obamas. Bill and Hillary will have key speaking stoles on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

Michelle Obama, who gave a stirring address at the 2016 convention, will appear in a pre-taped video on the first night of the convention. Her husband will speak on Wednesday.

Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire who made a surprise primary run but dropped out after disastrous performance on Super Tuesday, is expected to speak on the last day of the convention.

AP Photo / Gerald Herbert

Democratic presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg speaks at a campaign event in Raleigh

John Kasich will be this year’s outlier. The former Republican governor of Ohio and fierce Trump critic has been invited as part of Joe Biden’s effort to woo moderate Republicans.

Teachers, frontline healthcare workers, small business owners, factory workers and farmers will share their stories with the underlying motive of criticising Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and his trade war with China.

What was designed as a show of unity hasn’t been without several episodes of discord.

California congressman Ro Khanna, a national co-chair of the Sanders campaign, said last week that he would vote against the Democratic Party platform during the convention because it excludes Medicare for all.

Some Democrats publicly expressed disappointment at the lack of Asian American and Hispanic speakers (Julian Castro, in particular).

“The gross underrepresentation of Asian American speakers in the four days of the DNC Convention is tone deaf and a slap in the face,” wrote California Rep. Ted Lieu.

It also took a disgruntled tweet for Andrew Yang, another former presidential candidate, to get invited to address the event.

Here’s the full line-up:

Monday: Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and former First Lady Michelle Obama

Tuesday: former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State John Kerry, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Delaware, former President Bill Clinton, and former second lady Jill Biden

Wednesday: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, , and former President Barack Obama

Thursday: Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Mike Bloomberg, the Biden family, and Joe Biden himself.


Among the musicians who will try to mobilise Democratic voters will be Billie Eilish, John Legend, The Chicks, and Common.

Also in the line-up: Jennifer Hudson, Leon Bridges, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Prince Royce and Stephen Stills.

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