Democrats are planning to feature a broad lineup of everyday Americans during their four-day mostly virtual convention next week, placing them in the prime-time spotlight to drive Joe Biden’s messages on health care, the coronavirus pandemic and opposition to President Trump.
The list of speakers, which was provided to The Washington Post, includes a former Trump voter from Pennsylvania who is supporting Biden, a paramedic and immigrant from Mexico City on the front lines of the pandemic in Florida, a bus driver from Atlanta and an autoworker from Lake Orion, Mich.
“There are people from all parts of the country, all walks of life — different professions, different financial situations — all dealing with similar things. It’s really the story of what’s happening across America right now,” Stephanie Cutter, the program executive for the convention, said in an interview.
“It’s different from 2016 where Trump was just a celebrity,” she added. “He’s now a failed president, leaving everyday Americans in his wake. Those stories are the stories we’re going to tell.”
The convention — which will be streamed online via a variety of social media platforms and broadcast on television, as well as on Twitch — will take place from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. for four nights starting Aug. 17.
Biden’s campaign also confirmed to The Post that the party’s 2016 presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, will speak as part of the Wednesday night lineup, as will Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Biden’s vice presidential nominee will also speak that night (if Warren is the nominee, she would move into that speaking slot instead). Biden will speak on Thursday night in the traditional nominee’s spot.
The campaign confirmed that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) would speak on Monday night, and that former president Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama also will have speaking roles during the convention.
John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio who ran against Trump in 2016, is expected to speak, as is former president Bill Clinton, according to Politico. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D), who has been the nation’s most prominent governor during the coronavirus pandemic, is also in the speaking lineup, according to Bloomberg News.
Featuring Americans from all walks of life is a fixture of conventions, as candidates try to showcase their vision of the country and how it would relate to typical voters. The practice has the added benefit of breaking up what would otherwise be a lineup featuring only politicians.
Usually, however, those guests fill earlier slots and the better-known political figures are highlighted in prime time. But this convention is mostly virtual and will be conducted two hours each night for four nights, rather than multiple hours a day as usual. That means each person will be featured in prime time.
The convention originally was to be held in July in Milwaukee but was pushed off a month in hopes the coronavirus pandemic would wane. Last week, organizers announced that Biden would no longer travel to Wisconsin and that most other events scheduled from there had been canceled. Biden is expected to give his convention speech from his home state of Delaware.
The Republican convention is set to begin one week after the Democratic festivities, starting Aug. 24. Republicans had initially planned their celebration for Charlotte, later moving it to Jacksonville, Fla., in hopes of avoiding North Carolina’s public health restrictions. Now that in-person gathering has been canceled. Trump is exploring giving his acceptance speech from the White House, an idea that has met resistance from members of both parties.
Republicans have not announced the lineup of speakers, but their convention is expected to include a mix of live speeches from around the country and prerecorded videos.
At the Democratic convention, the list of speakers includes at least nine people from around the country, some of whom Biden had met while campaigning. They will be featured in a mixture of prerecorded segments and speeches, roundtables, and live remarks.
The list includes Rick Telesz, a farmer from Lawrence County, Pa., who voted for Trump in 2016 but, because of the impact the president’s trade policies has had on his family farm,is planning to vote for Biden. Another conservative Republican, Jeff Jeans of Sedona, Ariz., was adamantly opposed to the Affordable Care Act but changed his mind after being diagnosed with throat cancer and obtaining insurance coverage despite that preexisting condition.
Aldo Martinez, a paramedic from Fort Myers, Fla., was a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a program started by Obama but rescinded by Trump that gives some children of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. Martinez immigrated from Mexico City at the age of 12.
The speakers also will include DeAndra Dycus, whose 13-year-old son was shot and severely injured in 2014; Luz Chaparro Hernandez, an elementary school teacher in Milwaukee who is adjusting to challenges from the coronavirus; and Angie Taylor, a cancer survivor from Reno, Nev., who wants to preserve the Affordable Care Act.
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