Who is speaking at the Democratic National Convention – and why

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By Trevor Hunnicutt

Next week’s Democratic National Convention will feature a lineup of heavyweight politicians, rising stars and everyday Americans making the case for why Joe Biden should be elected U.S. president on Nov. 3.

Here is a look at the speakers who will be featured during the four nights of virtual programming kicking off on Monday.

SHOW OF UNITY

The first night of programming represents an effort to display the country’s full ideological spectrum uniting behind Biden’s candidacy.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a prominent liberal who fought the centrist Biden for the Democratic nomination, and Republican former Ohio Governor John Kasich, a two-time presidential candidate, will tell voters why they both support Biden as an alternative to Republican President Donald Trump.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a leading progressive voice who vexes conservatives and represents a younger generation of voters often at odds with Biden’s policy positions, is scheduled to speak at the convention on Aug. 18.

In addition to Sanders, the convention will feature several more of Biden’s former rivals in the Democratic primary, including former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has become a prolific fundraiser for Biden’s White House bid.

Julián Castro, a former federal housing secretary who also ran for president, will be among the Latino speakers highlighting the party’s focus on diversity, according to a person familiar with the programming. Missing from the lineup: former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who tweeted on Tuesday that he was surprised not to be asked.

WOMEN FOR BIDEN

Biden has vowed to pick a woman as his running mate, and several of the candidates considered for his No. 2 will speak at the convention.

Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth all have speaking slots, along with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Senators Amy Klobuchar and Catherine Cortez Masto, who were on the running mate list until they withdrew their names from the process, will speak as well.

Biden’s choice for his vice president, expected to be announced this week, will speak the night of Aug. 19.

U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, who helped run the unusually public vetting process for Biden’s running mate, and Biden’s wife, Jill, who privately weighed in on the selection, also are on the list.

‘EVERYDAY’ AMERICANS

The televised convention also will highlight Americans who are not on the who’s who list of Democrats but who represent the values the party hopes to project.

According to the national party, several of the speakers have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, the ensuing economic fallout and the racial injustice the country is confronting.

They include a Florida immigrant who is a paramedic working on the front lines during the pandemic and a Pennsylvania farmer who voted for Trump but now supports Biden.

DEMOCRATIC HEAVY HITTERS

Two former Democratic presidents and first ladies will speak in prime-time slots throughout the week.

Former first lady Michelle Obama, who has not yet played an active role in Biden’s campaign, will headline Monday in one of the week’s most highly anticipated speeches.

She will be followed by former President Bill Clinton on Aug. 18 and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee, on Aug. 19.

Former President Barack Obama, whom Biden served under as vice president for eight years, also will have a high-profile speaking role on Aug. 19.

Among the other top Democrats and Biden allies being featured are New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and California Governor Gavin Newsom, who both have gained prominence amid the pandemic, as well as House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a frequent adversary of Trump.

The final night will showcase Biden himself, as he accepts the party’s nomination in a speech traditionally viewed as the starting gun to the final sprint toward the election. Biden will address the country from his home state of Delaware, after the party canceled in-person convention festivities in Milwaukee over concerns about infection risk.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt in New York; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Jonathan Oatis)

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