DNC: Schedule, speakers, and how to watch the Democratic National Convention

How and when the party will nominate its presidential candidate

Graig Graziosi,Gino Spocchia
Wednesday 19 August 2020 23:40
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Former Democratic presidential rivals endorse Joe Biden at DNC

The Democratic National Convention takes place this week, with Joe Biden set to accept his nomination as the Democratic candidate before taking on President Donald Trump in the 2020 US election.

That acceptance speech will come on Thursday 20 August, following a completely virtual four-day event which begins on Monday 17 August, and can be watched here.

It promises to be a convention like none other, having been postponed, cancelled and moved online amid concerns around safety and coronavirus, which has killed 170,000 Americans to date.

The presumed Democratic party candidate for president, Joe Biden, will also see his rivals in the Democratic primary contest give their backing to his bid for the White House.

They include Senator Kamala Harris, who on Wednesday is due to accept her nomination as the Democratic vice presidential nominee, after she was announced as Mr Biden’s running mate less than a week ago.

What happens at the convention?

Not unlike the Republican convention in ordinary times, the Democrats’ event is traditionally a mixture of rallies, working sessions and elections, with delegates from the 50 states and non-state territories and districts convening in one place to determine the party’s platform and pick their candidates for president and vice president.

In 2020, however, working sessions will largely take place online – with participants able to tune-in and watch the proceedings from across the United States. Meanwhile, a considerably slimmed-down speaking schedule will see two-hour packages delivered by star speakers including former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, among other high-profile Democrats and personalities.

Who to watch and when

On Monday, you can expect to see speakers from across the American political spectrum, with at least one Republican starring alongside progressive Democrats such as Senator Bernie Sandors before former first lady, Michelle Obama, headlines the first night of the convention.

  • Senator Amy Klobuchar
  • Former Ohio Governor John Kasich
  • New York governor Andrew Cuomo
  • Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer
  • Senator Bernie Sanders
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama

On Tuesday, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will speak at the convention, providing young and progressive voters with a voice among more mainstream speakers and Mr Biden, who is sometimes at odds with younger Democrats. Tuesday will also seen former president Bill Clinton provide the warm-up to Mr Biden’s wide, Dr. Jill Biden, who could become the first lady after November.

  • Minority leader Chuck Schumer 
  • Former secretary of state John Kerry
  • Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
  • Former president Bill Clinton
  • Dr. Jill Biden

On Wednesday, a host of women speakers will provide the warm-up to Kamala Harris accepting her nomination as the 2020 Democratic vice presidential candidate, when she will formally become the first black and south Asian woman to stand on the ticket of a major party in the United States. That speech will then be followed by former president Barack Obama.

  • Senator Elizabeth Warren
  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Former secretary of state Hilary Clinton
  • Senator Kamala Harris
  • Former president Barack Obama

On Thursday, Mr Biden will be at the centre of the online event as he accepts the party’s nomination in a speech traditionally viewed as the starting gun on the final sprint towards November’s election. And, without an in-person event, that acceptance speech will be made from Mr Biden’s home state of Delaware.

  • Senator Cory Brooker
  • Fomer South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg
  • California governor Gavin Newsom
  • Andrew Yang
  • Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden

Spectacle

Apart from the selection of the party platform and the party’s candidates for president and vice president, the convention also serves as a means to rally supporters and solidify support for the candidates ahead of the November general election.

In 2020, that will come in the shape of completely online performances from Leon Bridges, The Chicks, Common, Stephen Stills, Jennifer Hudson and Billie Eilish (on Wednesday), who will entertain those watching the event.

Monday night will also see a virtual youth choir with members representing all 57 states and territories as singing the United States national anthem from remote locations across the country.

How to watch

The convention’s programming takes place between 9 - 11pm EDT ( 1 – 3am GMT the next day) Monday to Thursday this week, and can be watched online here.

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