The 2020 Democratic National Convention will mark the official transition of Joe Biden from the party’s presumptive nominee to its official presidential candidate, whose name will show up on ballots next to President Trump, and will provide the party with four nights of programming to rally its base and persuade swing voters to join their cause.
The party conventions, held every four years, have had their plans for this year blown up by the coronavirus pandemic and have had to adjust how they’ll take care of their business. They will still have a footprint in their host cities but won’t bring together the normal crowds of tens of thousands of supporters to inject millions of dollars into the local economy.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2020 Democratic National Convention as it’s being held in the age of the coronavirus.
The Democratic convention was originally slated to happen in the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wis. Due to the pandemic, however, the party has moved almost the entire convention to be virtual, as it plans a “Convention Across America” that will include all 57 states and territories in its programming.
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In Milwaukee, the convention will have its production centered at the Wisconsin Center, a convention center in the city. Meanwhile, delegates and speakers will stay home — virtually sending in their votes and giving their addresses.
To coordinate the massive media production involving two hours of programming for four consecutive nights, the DNC is tapping Ricky Kirshner, a nine-time Emmy winner who has been the executive producer of the Tony Awards and the Super Bowl for more than a decade each. Kirshner is a DNC regular, having worked on every convention since 1992.
“This convention will look different than any previous convention in history,” convention CEO Joe Solmonese said in a press release. “It will reach more people than ever before, and truly be a convention across America for all Americans, regardless of which party you belong to or who you’ve voted for in previous elections. This ‘unconventional’ convention will launch Joe Biden to victory in November.”
The Democratic convention will hold four nights of programming from Monday through Thursday, starting at 9 p.m. EST each night and ending at 11 p.m.
There will also be pre-shows for each night, with the hip-hop podcast Behind the Rhyme starting a pre-show at 8 p.m. that will stream on Twitch then turn into a simulcast of the convention. The popular liberal podcast Pod Save America, featuring four former Obama staffers, will do its own pre-show ahead of the final night of the convention as well.
Biden will not travel to Milwaukee due to coronavirus concerns and instead will deliver his acceptance speech from Delaware, his home state. Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, will also speak from Delaware.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, we put the health and safety of the American people first. 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,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said.
Trump, on the GOP side, also will not travel for his convention speech to either Charlotte, N.C., where official convention business will happen, or to Jacksonville, Fla., where Republicans had planned to move their convention before coronavirus numbers spiked there. He’ll give his speech either from the White House or from Gettysburg National Military Park.
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Perhaps in an effort to reflect Biden’s affable, Everyman public persona, the Democratic National Convention’s speakers’ lineup will include several everyday Americans meant to represent a cross-section of the country.
Democratic Party officials announced on Monday that these people — including a teacher with a class of bilingual students in Wisconsin, a paramedic who emigrated from Mexico and is now on the frontlines in Florida in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, and more — will showcase presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s messages on combating the coronavirus, stemming gun violence, health care and his opposition to Trump.
“These are the stories of the millions of working Americans that are struggling in the Trump recession, and as a result of Trump’s complete mismanagement of the COVID crisis. Like the overwhelming majority of the American people, they are looking for a steady, experienced leader who is fighting for them, not for himself or for those at the top,” Democratic National Convention Program Executive Stephanie Cutter said in a statement.
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Outside of the everyday Americans, the DNC will bring in four nights of headliners to speak during its two-hour programming window. In addition, each night will showcase a particular theme aimed at highlighting Biden’s strengths and Trump’s weaknesses. Monday’s will be “We the People,” Tuesday’s will be “Leadership Matters,” Wednesday’s will be “A More Perfect Union” and Thursday’s will be “America’s Promise.”
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Monday: Bernie Sanders, Catherine Cortez Masto, Andrew Cuomo, Gretchen Whitmer, Jim Clyburn, Bennie Thompson, Gwen Moore, John Kasich, Doug Jones, Amy Klobuchar, Michelle Obama
Tuesday: Sally Yates, Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Lisa Blunt Rochester, Bill Clinton, Jill Biden
During Tuesday night’s programming, there will also be a yet-to-be-disclosed keynote speaker, according to the convention, as well as a virtual roll call with many delegates casting their vote to nominate Biden.
Wednesday: Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Tony Evers, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Gabrielle Giffords, Kamala Harris, Barack Obama
Thursday: Cory Booker, Andrew Yang, Gavin Newsom, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Pete Buttigieg, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Chris Coons, The Biden Family, Joe Biden
Beyond the slate of politicians, the 2020 DNC will also include a variety of Hollywood artists, headlined by Billie Eilish and John Legend.
Also performing will be Leon Bridges, Billy Porter, The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) and more
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Caucuses and councils
During the convention, there will be dozens of caucuses and councils meeting to discuss everything from poverty to LGBTQ issues to labor issues. Their programming will take place generally between noon and 7 p.m., ahead of the evening’s official programming.
What’s the platform?
The 2020 Democratic Party Platform is a 96-page document that addresses a litany of issues from the economy to health care and beyond.
Among the planks on the platform are a public health care option, to “repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom,” universal pre-K for children three and older and making Washington, D.C. a state.
How does it work?
While the pomp and circumstance of a convention, designed to fire-up voters in the base and draw the interest of those who might be undecided ahead of the election is highly important, the real reason parties have their conventions is to officially nominate a candidate for president and approve a platform.
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Joe Biden has all of the pledged delegates he needs to sail to the official nomination, but the party will still have to go through the mechanics to make it official. Here’s how the nitty-gritty business of the DNC will work.
Before any business happens the Credentials Committee will have to officially seat all of the delegates and settle any disputes regarding a delegate’s eligibility. After that happens the Rules Committee will formally adopt the rules of the convention. It’s unlikely there will be any dissent on the rules, but if there is, there’s a process to solve that through a minority report or proposed amendments that can be solved by a vote among the delegates.
The Platform Committee will then go through a similar process before the nomination process gets underway. With Biden having easily secured a majority of pledged delegates, his nomination should be a formality. There will be a roll call of the delegates and Biden will be the nominee. Biden then will officially nominate Harris as his vice-presidential nominee and the chair of the convention will declare her the vice presidential nominee.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.