89.1 WEMU

Democrats Reveal Who Will Speak During The Convention — And Who Might Not

Aug 11, 2020
Originally published on August 12, 2020 10:39 am

Updated at 10:35 a.m. ET Wednesday

The speaking lineup for the Democratic National Convention that kicks off Monday includes a number of party stars that represent the ideological spectrum, ranging from Bill and Hillary Clinton to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Democrats unveiled on Tuesday morning a long list of party leaders and influential voices who will speak during this year's convention, with a mix of both moderate and progressive voices. They'll be featured across four nights of programming.

Democrats had previously announced a plan to also highlight the plight of everyday Americans by giving small-business owners, teachers, factory workers and front-line health care workers prime-time speaking slots.

Additional speakers will likely be added in the coming days, but here's the lineup, so far:

Monday: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (a Republican who ran against Donald Trump in the 2016 GOP primary) and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Tuesday: Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, former President Bill Clinton and Jill Biden, the candidate's spouse.

Wednesday: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former President Barack Obama and California Sen. Kamala Harris, the just-named vice presidential nominee.

Thursday: New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the Biden family and the presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

Who's missing: They could still get added to the lineup, but some notable Democrats are not in the initial rundown.

They include two women who had been rumored as vice presidential candidates: former national security adviser Susan Rice and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

Several of Biden's primary rivals are in the program, but the roles of other notable candidates remain to be seen, like former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, former housing Secretary Julián Castro and tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang. Yang expressed his disappointment after the announcement.

Two former Democratic presidential candidates currently in competitive Senate races also are not on the list: Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

There were questions about whether Ocasio-Cortez would make the cut, and while she did, other young progressives in the self-proclaimed "squad" have not: Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Former Vice President Al Gore, the party's 2000 nominee, will also not be featured, while other nominees who lost, like Clinton (2016) and Kerry (2004) will be speaking. Former President Jimmy Carter is also not listed, and he was notably absent from the funeral for Georgia Rep. John Lewis last month.

Hard choices were inevitably forced by the fact that Democrats have reduced their program to just two hours each night, forgoing the typical lengthy program that allowed for many speakers to get time on stage in the afternoon and early evening, before the prime-time headliners.

Last week, Democrats officially decided to turn their convention into an all virtual affair. And it was announced that because of the coronavirus pandemic, Biden would deliver his speech from his home state of Delaware, instead of traveling to the host city of Milwaukee to accept his party's nomination. It was a significant change, but Democratic convention planners had long been prepping for a highly-produced week that would need to be broadcast from multiple locations across the country.

On Tuesday, the party will also do a "roll call across America," in which they'll broadcast footage from all 57 states and territories as delegates officially cast their votes for the Democratic nominee.

The Republican National Convention celebration, being held the following week Aug. 24-Aug. 27 has been mired with logistical challenges from the outset. President Trump was initially planning to accept his party's nomination in Charlotte, N.C.; then that changed to Jacksonville, Fla., which was also subsequently canceled.

His most recent suggestion, as of Monday, was to tease that he'll either deliver his speech from the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pa.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.