Democrats unveil wide-ranging speaker schedule for convention

The Democratic National Convention will feature a star-studded array of the country’s most prominent party leaders, key allies of presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, and rising stars in Democratic circles.

Former first lady Michelle Obama, former second lady Jill Biden, former President Barack Obama, and the former vice president headlining each of the four nights, according to a schedule released by the Democratic Party.

Monday, the first night of the convention, showcases a slate of speakers who reflect the ideological spectrum lined up behind Biden’s candidacy, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, the progressive stalwart who was Biden’s chief rival for the Democratic nomination, and former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a former GOP presidential contender who competed against President Donald Trump in 2016.

Michelle Obama, who has opted to remain mostly on the sidelines throughout the 2020 political season, is emerging front and center at a crucial time for the party to project unity and will deliver the keynote speech.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
  • Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
  • Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C.
  • Convention chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
  • Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.
  • Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich
  • Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
  • Former first lady Michelle Obama
  • ABC News Live will kick off primetime coverage each day at 7 p.m. ET on the network’s steaming news channel and primetime coverage will air from 10-11 p.m. ET each night of the convention on the ABC Television Network.

    Tuesday features both a look at some of the party's more established leaders and its youngest stars, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former President Bill Clinton. Ocasio-Cortez will only be allotted one minute for her speech, ABC News confirmed. The limited time is roiling progressives who view her speaking time as a slight to the movement by the establishment and a reflection of the broader disconnect between the national party and younger, more diverse voters.

    And under the theme of “leadership matters,” the night will also include former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who briefly oversaw the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, former Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Delaware Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a close friend of Biden's who was one of the co-chairs of his vice presidential search team.

    Jill Biden will deliver the night’s keynote speech.

  • Former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer
  • Former Secretary of State John Kerry
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, D-Del.
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Former second lady Dr. Jill Biden
  • Also on Tuesday, a group of 17 “rising stars” within the party will deliver a keynote speech meant to capture the “diversity of ideas and perspectives” within the party. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, Texas Rep. Colin Allred, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and Birmingham, Alabama, Mayor Randall Woodfin are among the officials set to participate.

    Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential nominee, is set to speak on Wednesday, the same night as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and some of the women speculated to have been on Biden’s shortlist for a vice president, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who was severely injured when a gunman opened fire at a campaign event in Tucson, will also speak.

    The night leads up to a speech by Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, just before Barack Obama is set to close out the night.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.
  • Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers
  • New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords
  • Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.
  • Former President Barack Obama
  • The event culminates on Thursday, under the header of “America's Promise” and features a number of the women who were considered to be in contention to be Biden’s running mate — including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth — a number of Biden’s former 2020 rivals, including Sen. Cory Booker and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and members of Biden’s family.

    They all lead up to Biden's speech, during which he will formally accept the party’s presidential nomination.

  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J.
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
  • Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
  • Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.
  • The Biden family
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • While some of the speeches will be live, others will be pre-recorded — a result of the changing circumstances due to the pandemic and the need to minimize any technical issues.

    Mike Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate, is also speaking in the convention, an aide for the former mayor confirmed to ABC News. Details on which day he is set to appear are still to be announced. Bloomberg has long been a friend and ally of Biden's, endorsing him immediately after suspending his presidential bid.

    Andrew Yang, a former presidential contender who was not initially among the listed speakers, expressed some dismay about not being included in the schedule. Two days after he shared his surprise, he announced he was added to the speaker lineup, and will appear on Thursday at 9 p.m.

    Yang is also expected to be part of a virtual segment featuring 13 former 2020 presidential candidates who competed against Biden, a Democratic official confirmed to ABC News. The former candidates, who will be on video through a platform similar to Zoom, will offer a shared vision of the party’s future across two videos, one on Monday, the first night of the convention, and one on Thursday, the night of Biden’s speech.

    Some of the candidates will make individual remarks on top of the collective videos, which will feature some of the Democrats in both. The 13 former presidential candidates include Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren; Reps. Seth Moulton and Beto O'Rourke; Julián Castro, Andrew Yang, Gov. Jay Inslee, former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and billionaire Tom Steyer.

    All of the speeches are set to take place during two hours of primetime, 9-11 p.m. ET, with each day of the gathering centering around the theme of “Uniting America” — one that the party views as a sharp contrast between Biden’s vision and leadership and Trump’s and one that also draws on the chief conflict throughout the primary that frequently pitted the moderate faction against the progressive wing.

    In the months since wrapping up the Democratic primary and before he formally takes the helm of the party, Biden has attempted to navigate those dueling political currents that he needs to tame to successfully execute his primary goal: to unite the entire Democratic coalition.

    The slate of speakers aims to highlight Biden’s efforts to not only court uncertain progressives, but also demonstrate his commitment to broadening the coalition, which includes some disillusioned Republicans such as Kasich, that he hopes will deliver him the White House in November. Additional speakers, including national leaders, advocates and celebrities will be announced in the coming days, according to convention planners.

    The convention, which was planned to be in Milwaukee in July, has been hobbled by the virus. Organizers first pushed the date back to August, then pared-back the event by anchoring it in the city with a mix of virtual events and, ultimately, announced earlier this month that the gathering was moving to an almost entirely virtual affair, with Biden scheduled to accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware.

    Details around Biden’s speech have yet to be released, but his decision reflects just how much the coronavirus pandemic has transformed planning for the quadrennial event. Delegates and members of Congress, too, were told to stay home rather than travel to Milwaukee.

    Less than one week out, an event that historically takes years to plan, is the capstone of the party's nominating process and typically attracts thousands of supporters and party loyalists is still being finalized.

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