Joe Biden, Democrats reveal details of DNC convention with nightly themes, speakers
Speakers expected to include both Clintons, Obamas, Sen. Bernie Sanders, GOP ex-Ohio Gov. John Kasich
WASHINGTON – With guests and segments streamed in from across the country, Democrats and their presumptive nominee Joe Biden plan to use four nights of videos and speakers at the party’s convention to highlight stories of everyday Americans struggling during a global pandemic and economic upheaval.
In doing so, they will cast blame on President Donald Trump for simultaneous crises and argue that Biden, the former vice president, is the person America needs to lead the nation out of chaos.
Biden and the Democratic National Committee have chosen “Uniting America,” according to convention planners, as the primary theme for the four-day day Democratic National Convention, originally planned for Milwaukee but now conducted by video from satellite locations because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The theme for the DNC’s unprecedented virtual convention is meant to show a sharp contrast to Trump, who Democrats say has divided the nation amid one of the nation’s most trying periods.
The convention, set for Aug. 17 to 20, is expected to air live nightly on cable news from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. EST, with the second hour expanding to networks. The Biden campaign will also stream the convention live on 15 platforms including the party’s web site, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon Prime.
The party’s regular business, including adopting a platform, will take place virtually during the day.
Heavy focus on video-storytelling
Each night will have a different sub-theme with messaging tailored toward each: Monday is “We the People.” Tuesday is “Leadership Matters.” Wednesday is “A More Perfect Union.” And Thursday is ”America’s Promise.”
Biden will deliver his acceptance speech from his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, on Thursday night, but officials would not disclose the location. It won’t be from his basement or house, however. Planners did not rule out Biden appearing other nights as well.
Biden’s vice president selection – a woman expected to be named next week – will address the convention on Wednesday night, convention planners confirmed.
Creative elements include a mix of live and pre-recorded segments, video-storytelling, as well as digital components and a focus on Americans across the county, not just a slate of elected officials. Organizers likened the programming to four two-hour “TV shows” each night that will include different hosts “to keep the program moving” and segue to different videos and guests.
For months, the DNC has worked to build a convention format that, because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, will not include the usual in-person pageantry of a packed arena.
On the Republican side, Trump last month pulled out of Jacksonville, Florida, where Trump planned to give his acceptance speech and celebrate the convention.
The president has not said where he will accept the party’s nomination instead but party business for the Republican National Convention, set for Aug. 24 to Aug. 27, a week after Democats meet, will remain in Charlotte, N.C., the original site of the RNC Convention.
DNC convention speakers and programming will frame Biden as the “steady and experienced leader America needs” to bring the country together and steer the nation out of crisis, according to DNC officials.
Democrats will look to use the four days to paint the former vice president as the candidate willing to listen to doctors and scientists and work with governors and mayors to eradicate COVID 19, while also “building back a better economy” that works for working people first and small businesses, “not billionaires and big corporations.”
Expected speakers include Kasich, Sanders, both Obamas, Clintons
The DNC has not formally announced the schedule of speakers.
Speakers, who will address the convention remotely by video, are expected to include former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich and Biden’s former Democratic primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. They will speak the same night, Politico reported, in a display of support from opposite ends of the political spectrum.
The lineup will also include former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama; President Bill Clinton and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. and, according to Bloomberg, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who gained a national spotlight when his state was the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic.
Harris is among the finalists being vetted for Biden’s vice presidential nominee, but her speaking role doesn’t indicate either way whether he will choose her.
“This convention is for all Americans, no matter who you voted for in the past,” Cutter said. ”We will unite America around the critical task of electing Joe Biden as president in November so we can begin to build a more just, more democratic, kinder and stronger country – a better America.
“The message we aim to deliver is simple: Joe Biden is the steady, compassionate and experienced leader America needs right now to bring us together and steer our nation out of Trump’s crises and constant chaos and build a better future for all.”
It is unclear whether U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a progressive star, has a speaking slot, according to Politico. Ocasio-Cortez backed Sanders during the primary, but quickly said she would vote for Biden after he emerged as the presumptive nominee.
To unify the party’s progressive and moderate wings, Ocasio-Cortez was tapped to co-chair a unity task force assembled by Biden and Sanders to make party platform recommendations. But one of Trump’s campaign strategies is to paint Biden as a “tool of the radical left,” launching TV ads this week that feature images of both Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders.
Breaking down the different nights
On Monday night, the opening day of the convention, the ”We the People” programming will focus on “Americans rising up to take our country back” by highlighting what the campaign calls the nation’s three crises – the pandemic, the struggling economy and racial injustice.
Tuesday’s “Leadership Matters” will focus on small business owners, frontline health care workers, racial justice leaders, veterans, activists and others who the Biden campaign says is “looking for leadership” out of the White House. “It will raise the question, what does leadership mean?” a DNC official said, and seek to contrast Biden’s style and approach with Trump.
Speakers will argue a leader is someone “who will unite us, tell us the truth, take responsibility, listen to experts and be an example for the nation” – and someone “rises up during crises” not shies away.
The aim of Wednesday’s ”A More Perfect Union” will be to highlight Biden’s “Build Back Better” plans for the economy and rebuilding out of the pandemic.
On Thursday, when Biden will accept the nomination, the theme of ”America’s Promise” will look to frame Biden as a man of character, decency, compassion and resilience – “a fighter” who gets back up. The night will lean into Biden’s biography and his long record in Washington.
Citing safety concerns posed by the coronavirus pandemic the Biden campaign this week said the former vice president won’t travel to Milwaukee to give his presidential acceptance speech – nor will any of the other speakers slated to address the convention.
The change came after the Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett instituted a 225-person limit on people assembling in one place.
“I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve wanted to set an example as to how we should respond individually to this crisis,” Biden said.