For the first time in its 188-year history, all the pomp and dazzle of the Democratic National Convention will be moved to a live streamed broadcast format due to the coronavirus pandemic. This means none of the power-packed political speakers will actually appear live from Milwaukee, including Democratic presidential contender and former Vice President Joe Biden, along with his history-making running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris.
Instead, they will deliver their speeches via pre-recorded videos from Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Del. and will be livestreaming the convention just like their constituents and the rest of the American people – over their laptops, mobile devices and TVs.
Four years ago, Hillary Clinton narrowly lost Wisconsin, a swing state, to Donald Trump. In March 2019, Dems chose Wisconsin to host its convention but COVID required they regroup and opt for a mostly virtual set-up, although a few key business meetings will still take place in person in Milwaukee.
So who’s on deck to speak and who was left out? Who will entertain the masses? And what else can we expect this week? Here are 10 things you should know about the 2020 DNC.
The DNC kicks off tonight at 9 p.m. EST and runs for two hours each evening this week, ending Thursday night. The DNC will livestream a back-to-back lineup of roughly three dozen speakers throughout the four-day event. Here is a schedule of all convention events.
The main hubs for the convention will be on stages in Milwaukee, New York, Los Angeles, and Wilmington, Del.
This will be no semblance of past conventions – no packed audiences, balloons and confetti. This will be a technological feat that some predict may have some hiccups. The DNC concedes this convention will be rather unconventional but posts in a video on IG that “we’ll engage and feature the voices of more people” during the event.
Biden is expected to officially accept the Democratic nomination on Thursday night and will deliver his speech from the Chase Center in Wilmington. On Wednesday night, Harris will be officially nominated – becoming the first African American and South Asian woman in United States history to be added to a presidential ticket. Harris will join Biden in Delaware to deliver her speech.
Biden posted on Instagram that one of the reasons he chose Harris is that both of them believe in America’s limitless possibilities.
Judging by a new CBS News poll, Black registered voters clearly support Harris as the VP pick, with 53 percent saying they are enthusiastic about her candidacy and 36 percent saying they are satisfied.
DNC leadership, chaired by former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, appears to be in tune with the racial division and unrest in America and looks to use this moment to galvanize Americans. As such, the Dems have chosen “Uniting America” as the overall theme for this week’s gathering.
Additionally, each night has a theme. Monday is “We the People,” Tuesday is “Leadership Matters,” Wednesday is “A More Perfect Union” and Thursday is “America’s Promise.”
The Democrats have diversified the speaker lineup by race and ethnicity, gender and ideologies, making sure to include progressives as well as moderates on the agenda, reported NBC San Diego. However, a shortened convention timeframe means that some tough decisions were made regarding who would speak, causing some to feel left out.
Former president Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama, are scheduled to speak and are expected to motivate and mobilize voters. Also speaking are South Carolina Rep. James Clyburn, whose endorsement breathed new life into a struggling Biden primary campaign months ago; Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar; Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; former President Bill Clinton; and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks Monday night (Aug. 17) and is expected to go in on Trump’s failed leadership in his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to media reports.
What might come as a surprise is that former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a Republican, is also expected to speak during Monday night’s DNC kickoff. In addition, at least one other high-profile Republican is slated to speak, the Biden campaign hinted to NBC, although it is unclear who that might be.
Julian Castro, the only Latino-American among this most recent slate of Democratic challengers to vie for president, is not delivering an address, although he is speaking on Zoom with the other presidential candidates. That didn’t go over well for one DNC delegate who posted this tweet. Rep. Joaquin Castro, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) and is Julian’s brother, was also not asked to speak.
This slight has led to some complaints about the lack of Muslim speakers and slim group of Latino speakers gracing the DNC this year.
On top of this, there was some initial backlash by Andrew Yang’s camp last week that he was left out of speaking, causing some to decry the lack of DNC representation among Asian-Americans.
Yang has since been added as a speaker and posted his thanks on Twitter.
Among the musical performers participating are Jennifer Hudson, Common, Leon Bridges, Billy Porter and John Legend. His performance comes as he and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, just recently confirmed that they are expecting their third baby.
Stephanie Cutter, 2020 Democratic National Convention program executive, issued a news release on the happenings. “… these incredible artists will help us tell the story of where we are as a country today under Donald Trump’s failed leadership, and the promise of what we can and should be with Joe Biden as president. These artists are committed to engaging with, registering and mobilizing voters to get us over the finish line in November.”
Four celebrities are also joining forces with the DNC to lend their star-power to the convention and Biden’s campaign. Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington, Eva Longoria and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will each take part in convention activities. The celebs will speak “alongside an unprecedented lineup of inspiring Americans, party leaders and rising stars, activists, advocates and more,” according to a DNC news release.
The Democratic National Convention is the place where the presumptive candidate is officially nominated to represent the party during the presidential election. But the DNC is also notorious for its business meetings, political mingling, lobbying and parties.
This week, instead of thousands of delegates from each state convening to discuss how many are pledging their support behind Biden, a pre-recorded roll call vote of the 57 state and territorial delegations will take place virtually on Tuesday, sealing Biden’s nomination, according to The Washington Post.
Trump will not take this week's convention lying down. His campaign is spending major money on online ads at a price tag estimated to be in the high seven figures. The ads will run on YouTube, The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, The Washington Post and other sites to try and shift attention back to his reelection bid, reports The New York Times.
Next week is the Republican National Convention. It will also be mostly virtual, however a small group will meet in person in Charlotte, N.C.. Trump is expected to deliver his acceptance speech on Aug. 27, the final night of that convention.