Par­tial speaker list un­veiled.

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY BILL BAR­ROW

AT­LANTA — Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Joe Biden in­sists he can unify a frac­tured na­tion, and he’ll test his the­ory with an un­usual nom­i­nat­ing con­ven­tion in­tended to span the spec­trum of U.S. pol­i­tics.

The Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion, a vir­tual pro­duc­tion since the COVID-19 pan­demic led party of­fi­cials to can­cel all in-per­son plans in Mil­wau­kee, will fea­ture pre­sen­ters from pro­gres­sive Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez to Repub­li­can John Ka­sich, a for­mer Ohio gov­er­nor who sought the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion four years ago.

A de­tailed but in­com­plete list of speak­ers was re­leased Tues­day. Illi­nois Sen. Tammy Duck­worth, who was on Biden’s short list for run­ning mate, is sched­uled to speak Thurs­day.

The un­usual for­mat, with just eight hours of prime-time pro­gram­ming spread over four nights from Aug. 17-20, will test Biden’s abil­ity to project a co­he­sive mes­sage to a splin­tered elec­torate wrenched by a pan­demic, a dev­as­tated econ­omy and an on­go­ing reck­on­ing on sys­temic racism.

“We had two goals in mind: to in­clude more Amer­i­cans than ever be­fore and to en­sure that all Amer­i­cans see them­selves re­flected in what they were view­ing,” said Stephanie Cut­ter, a vet­eran Demo­cratic strate­gist who is di­rect­ing the pro­gram for Biden.

Pro­gram­ming is set to be broad­cast and streamed on­line each night from 8 to 10 Chicago time.

Many de­tails, in­clud­ing who will speak live and whose re­marks will be pre-taped, are not fi­nal­ized. Biden also has not named a key­note speaker, who will be fea­tured Tues­day.

Sen. Bernie San­ders will ap­pear Mon­day, the same night as Ka­sich. For­mer first lady Michelle Obama and Michi­gan Gov. Gretchen Whit­mer also will be fea­tured that night.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, Oca­sio-Cortez and Jill Biden, the nom­i­nee’s wife, lead the Tues­day slate. For­mer Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry, the 2004 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, has a Tues­day spot.

Prom­i­nent Demo­cratic women dom­i­nate the lineup Wed­nes­day, when Ka­mala Har­ris, Biden’s vice pres­i­den­tial choice, will speak. The list also in­cludes 2016 nom­i­nee Hil­lary Clin­ton; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; and Gabrielle Gif­fords, the for­mer con­gress­woman and high-pro­file ad­vo­cate for tighter gun re­stric­tions.

For­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who re­mains per­haps the party’s most pop­u­lar fig­ure, also drew a Wed­nes­day time slot.

As with a nor­mal con­ven­tion, Biden’s ac­cep­tance speech will con­clude the pro­ceed­ings Thurs­day night. He is ex­pected to speak live from his home state of Delaware, though the cam­paign has not an­nounced a venue.


U.S. Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is sched­uled to speak Tues­day night at the Demo­cratic con­ven­tion.

John Ka­sich

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