Democratic National Convention 2020: Speakers, lineup, and how to watch

The Democratic National Convention is going fully virtual this year.

Rather than days of full programming, the convention will be condensed into two hours of televised speeches spread out from Monday, August 17, to Thursday, August 20. Former Vice President Joe Biden is set to accept his party’s nomination on Thursday night from his home in Delaware, rather than the original planned location of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Fears about the Covid-19 outbreak and the potential to spread the virus even with a severely reduced crowd caused the Democratic National Committee to scrap its in-person Milwaukee convention.

Starting at 9 pm Eastern each night, the Democratic convention will be broadcast on all major television networks, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and streaming services like Apple TV and Roku. The convention will also be streamed live from the DNC’s website.

The DNC lineup features big Democratic names including former first lady Michelle Obama and former President Barack Obama, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren. The convention will also feature former Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who will deliver an appeal to his fellow Republicans to support Biden for president.

These bigger names will give speeches Monday through Thursday, alongside American business owners, teachers, factory workers and front-line health care workers.

Here’s the full lineup of speakers at this year’s Democratic National Convention.

The DNC speaker schedule and lineup

There will be a slate of speakers each night, including former presidents and sitting US senators, governors, and US representatives. The themes for each day include:

  • Monday: We the People
  • Tuesday: Leadership Matters
  • Wednesday: A More Perfect Union
  • Thursday: America’s Promise

Here’s the list of speakers, broken out by day.

Monday:

  • Former first lady Michelle Obama
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn
  • Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), chair of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee
  • Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security
  • Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL)
  • Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI)

Tuesday:

  • Dr. Jill Biden
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
  • Former US Attorney General Sally Yates
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE)

Wednesday:

  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Joe Biden’s yet-to-be-announced vice presidential candidate
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic nominee for president
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
  • Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, a prominent gun control advocate
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

Thursday:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden accepts the Democratic nomination
  • Members of the Biden family
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

Why the DNC is virtual this year

In previous years, the national party convention would be a moment for unity and celebration. But amid a once-in-a-century pandemic that’s claimed more than 163,000 American lives and counting, Democrats are hoping their virtual convention sends a larger message about how their nominee plans to govern in a time of national crisis.

With an absence of federal leadership from President Donald Trump, the Biden campaign and national Democrats are portraying themselves as the party of responsibility.

“I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Biden said at a recent virtual fundraiser, speaking about the virtual convention. “From the start of the process, we’ve made it clear. … Science matters.”

Democrats have known for months that the coronavirus meant the normal throng of thousands of cheering delegates was out of the question. A recent public health order from Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett would have limited the convention’s in-person capacity to 250 people, but coronavirus cases in Wisconsin are also still on the rise, and interstate travel comes with risk.

Even with stringent safety measures like mandatory masks and daily temperature checks already in place, some Democrats feared even the sparsest indoors convention could still potentially spread Covid-19. After Trump’s June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, coronavirus cases in that city surged, and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain died of Covid-19. Democrats didn’t want to risk any new cases emerging from their national convention.

“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first,” DNC Chair Tom Perez said in a statement. “We followed the science, listened to doctors and public health experts, and we continued making adjustments to our plans in order to protect lives. That’s the kind of steady and responsible leadership America deserves. And that’s the leadership Joe Biden will bring to the White House.”

Democrats want one message to dominate their convention: Where Trump has failed, Biden will lead America out of its current crisis.

“People care about one thing: They care about being safe,” former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe told Vox. “It’s a totally different dynamic; we have one message to come out of that convention.”

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