By JOHN VERHOVEK and KENDALL KARSON, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — The Democratic National Convention will feature a star-studded array of the country’s most prominent party leaders, key allies of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and rising stars in Democratic circles.
Former first lady Michelle Obama, former second lady Jill Biden, former President Barack Obama, and the former vice president will headline each of the four nights, according to a schedule released by the Democratic Party.
Monday, the first night of the convention, showcases a slate of speakers who reflect the ideological spectrum lined up behind Biden’s candidacy, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive stalwart who was Biden’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former GOP presidential contender who competed against President Donald Trump in 2016.
Michelle Obama, who has opted to remain mostly on the sidelines throughout the 2020 political season, is emerging front and center at a crucial time for the party to project unity and will deliver the keynote speech.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
- Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
- Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
- Convention chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
- Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.
- Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich
- Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.
- Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
- Former first lady Michelle Obama
Tuesday features both a look at some of the party’s more established leaders and its youngest stars, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former President Bill Clinton.
And under the theme of “leadership matters,” the night will also include former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who briefly oversaw the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a close friend of Biden’s who was one of the co-chairs of his vice presidential search team.
Jill Biden will deliver the night’s keynote speech.
- Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates
- Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
- Former Secretary of State John Kerry
- Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
- Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
- Former President Bill Clinton
- Former second lady Dr. Jill Biden
Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential nominee, is set to speak on Wednesday, the same night as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and some of the women speculated to have been on Biden’s shortlist for a vice president, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who was severely injured when a gunman opened fire at a campaign event in Tucson, will also speak.
The night leads up to a speech by Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, just before Barack Obama is set to close out the night.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
- New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
- Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
- Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
- Former President Barack Obama
The event culminates on Thursday, under the header of “America’s Promise” and features a number of the women who were considered to be in contention to be Biden’s running mate — including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth — a number of Biden’s former 2020 rivals, including Sen. Cory Booker and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and members of Biden’s family.
They all lead up to Biden’s speech, during which he will formally accept the party’s presidential nomination.
- Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
- California Gov. Gavin Newsom
- Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
- Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
- Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
- The Biden family
- Former Vice President Joe Biden
While some of the speeches will be live, others will be pre-recorded — a result of the changing circumstances due to the pandemic and the need to minimize any technical issues.
Andrew Yang, a former presidential contender who is not among the listed speakers, expressed some dismay about not being included in the schedule. But Yang is expected to be part of a segment featuring former 2020 presidential candidates.
All of the speeches are set to take place during two hours of primetime, 9-11 p.m. ET, with each day of the gathering centering around the theme of “Uniting America” — one that the party views as a sharp contrast between Biden’s vision and leadership and Trump’s and one that also draws on the chief conflict throughout the primary that frequently pitted the moderate faction against the progressive wing.
In the months since wrapping up the Democratic primary and before he formally takes the helm of the party, Biden has attempted to navigate those dueling political currents that he needs to tame to successfully execute his primary goal: to unite the entire Democratic coalition.
The slate of speakers aims to highlight Biden’s efforts to not only court uncertain progressives, but also demonstrate his commitment to broadening the coalition, which includes some disillusioned Republicans such as Kasich, that he hopes will deliver him the White House in November. Additional speakers, including national leaders, advocates and celebrities will be announced in the coming days, according to convention planners.
The convention, which was planned to be in Milwaukee in July, has been hobbled by the virus. Organizers first pushed the date back to August, then pared-back the event by anchoring it in the city with a mix of virtual events and, ultimately, announced earlier this month that the gathering was moving to an almost entirely virtual affair, with Biden scheduled to accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware.
Details around Biden’s speech have yet to be released, but his decision reflects just how much the coronavirus pandemic has transformed planning for the quadrennial event. Delegates and members of Congress, too, were told to stay home rather than travel to Milwaukee.
Less than one week out, an event that historically takes years to plan, is the capstone of the party’s nominating process and typically attracts thousands of supporters and party loyalists is still being finalized.
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