BY: IVAN PEREIRA and LAUREN KIND
(MILWAUKEE) — Democrats will open their mostly virtual convention in Milwaukee Monday under the theme of unity, with speakers who represent the party’s progressive and traditional platforms.
“As we have learned throughout our history, when we stand united, we can overcome anything, including the monumental challenges we face today,” the Democratic National Convention Committee said in a release.
Traditionally, political conventions are painstakingly choreographed live productions that are planned years in advance. But the coronavirus pandemic has reduced the nominating celebration to a minimal footprint in Milwaukee — with major programming and production details still in flux just days before it is set to begin.
7:39 p.m. Demings on first night’s theme
“I believe that tonight is just a demonstration of how broken our nation is under this president’s failed policies,” Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., tells ABC News’ Linsey Davis on ABC News Live.
"I believe that tonight is just a demonstration of how broken our nation is under this president's failed policies," @RepValDemings tells @LinseyDavis on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. #DemConvention https://t.co/0UJrAu7xky pic.twitter.com/rR2VJhrCC5
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 17, 2020
7:32 p.m. DNC faces backlash for lack of Latinx representation
The Democratic National Convention Committee continues to field backlash from some in the party’s progressive wing who have criticized the week’s thin representation from Latinx speakers and pointed out that several segments have been allotted to Republican speakers instead.
“I’d be lying to you if I said that I’m not disappointed that there aren’t more Latinos and Latinas generally speaking on that program,” former presidential contender Julian Castro, who gave the keynote address at the 2012 convention, said on MSNBC over the weekend.
Former 2020 presidential candidate @JulianCastro talks what to expect from the virtual Democratic National Convention this week and calls for @USPS Postmaster General to testify before Congress. #GMA3 #WYNTK https://t.co/or97D1wGl2 pic.twitter.com/lVZiRkusb2
— ABC News Live (@ABCNewsLive) August 17, 2020
Castro somewhat defended the DNC on ABC News Live Monday, acknowledging the limited primetime hours at this year’s gathering and adding, “I think the DNC heard in general the concerns of a lot of people because over the weekend there were many more voices that were added to the mix.”
Sawyer Hackett, a senior advisor to Castro, wrote in a blunt post to Twitter last week, “It’s completely unacceptable that there are as many Republicans speaking at the convention as Latinos,” before following up with another tweet that read, “Correction: more Republicans on day one than Latinos the whole week.”
7:18 p.m. Trump mocks Democrats for pre-taped speeches as campaign runs counter programming
In a string of campaign-style events in Minnesota and Wisconsin Monday, President Donald Trump criticized Democrats for having pre-taped speeches in their convention programming, dismissing the streaming challenges prompted by the pandemic while teasing his own speech next week “live from the White House.”
“They’re making speeches that are taped. Who wants to listen to Michelle Obama do a taped speech?” Trump said to boos outside an airport hangar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “No, you gotta have her get up there. But we’re doing a real speech on Thursday. Next Thursday, so you’ll be listening. We’re doing it live — live from the White House.”
“I wonder, is Joe Biden taping his speech too? Because if he is, I think I’ll tape mine,” Trump added in an apparent joke.
Over the weekend, the Trump reelection campaign announced they would have four nights of rebuttals to the Democratic National Convention this week. Called “The Real Joe Biden (LIVE),” the counter programming will take place at 11 p.m. ET from Monday to Thursday.
Trump is also scheduled to deliver a speech — just hours before Biden accepts the Democratic nomination — from right outside the former vice president’s hometown in Pennsylvania. The president will also hold counter programming events in three other swing states and will launch a massive multi-million dollar digital ad blitz that includes taking over the banner of YouTube for 96 hours starting on Tuesday.
7:13 p.m. Michelle Obama speech excerpts
The DNC released excerpts of remarks from some of Monday night’s speakers including a longer excerpt to ABC News from former first lady Michelle Obama’s pre-recorded remarks.
In that clip, she reflects on her knowledge of Biden, stressing that he has the knowledge and skills needed to lead the country through the current crises it faces.
“I know Joe. He is a profoundly decent man guided by faith. He was a terrific vice president. He knows what it takes to rescue an economy, beat back a pandemic and lead our country. And he listens. He will tell the truth, and trust science. He will make smart plans and manage a good team. And he will govern as someone who’s lived a life that the rest of us can recognize,” Obama says in the clip.
Obama then recounts the many struggles that Biden faces in his life, including the loss of his wife and daughter in 1972 and the loss of his son in 2015.
“When he was a kid, Joe’s father lost his job. When he was a young senator, Joe lost his wife and his baby daughter, and when he was vice president, he lost his beloved son. So Joe knows the anguish of sitting at a table with an empty chair, which is why he gives his time so freely to grieving parents. Joe knows what it’s like to struggle, which is why he gives his personal phone number to kids overcoming a stutter of their own. His life is a testament to gettin’ back up. And he is going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up to help us heal and guide us forward,” Obama says.
7:08 p.m. DNC’s breakdown of broader themes
Earlier Monday, the DNC released programming details breaking down tonight’s broader theme of “We the People” into segments titled “We the People Demanding Racial Justice”; “We the People Helping Each Other Through COVID-19”; “We the People Putting Country Over Party”; “We the People Recovering”; and “We the People Rise.”
“Tonight the nation will hear from the many Americans who are rising up to take on these three crises, and who will join Joe Biden in building back better and moving this country forward,” the DNC said in a release.
During the segment titled “We the People Helping Each Other Through COVID-19,” the DNC lists previously undisclosed remarks from Kristin Urquiza, a woman whose father lost his life to coronavirus earlier this year, an indication of the party’s plans to keep President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic at the forefront of the Biden-Harris campaign.
“Mark, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19. His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” Urquiza wrote in her father’s obituary.
Celebrities and artists including Eva Longoria, Leon Bridges, Billy Porter and Steven Stills will also make appearances throughout the evening.
7 p.m. Who is speaking at the DNC Monday
Former first lady Michelle Obama will be the keynote speaker of the night, after remaining mostly on the sidelines throughout the 2020 political season.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, the former rival of presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican candidate for president in 2016, will also speak.
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