US Democratic National Convention: What you need to know


AUGUST 15, 2020

The Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee is seen on Aug. 5. – Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has reshaped all of 2020′s major events, including the political conventions. Want to know what to expect and who is scheduled to speak? Keep reading.

When is the Democratic National Convention?

The DNC will be held over four days, starting Monday, Aug. 17 and ending Thursday, Aug. 20. Programming is scheduled for 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time each night. The event was originally scheduled for July but was pushed back due to the pandemic.

The Washington Post will carry the convention live; coverage starts at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Where is it?

It was planned for Milwaukee, and while some of the party’s business will still take place there, in-person events have been severely curtailed. It will be mostly virtual, with even soon-to-be nominee Joe Biden appearing on-screen instead of in person. He and his running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California, will both give their speeches at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., a waterfront event center with several ballrooms and an auditorium.

Who will speak?

The convention speakers are usually a mix of party luminaries, rising stars and non-politicians whose stories illuminate something the party wants to highlight. The list is not yet complete, but here’s what we know:


  • Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont who ran against Clinton in 2016 and was the last opponent to drop out against Biden this year. Sanders is a not a Democrat — he’s a political independent who caucuses with the Democrats — but his liberal ideas have been influential.
  • Michelle Obama, the former first lady and a popular figure in the party.
  • Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan whose name was in the mix for Biden’s running mate. Her state is another one that Democrats lost in 2016, and Whitmer has been praised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Catherine Cortez Masto, the Nevada senator who became the first Latina leader of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
  • Andrew M. Cuomo, the New York governor.
  • James E. Clyburn, the House majority whip who endorsed Biden in his home state of South Carolina. Biden’s win in South Carolina, the first state on the primary calendar with a substantial Black population, set him on a road to the nomination.
  • Bennie Thompson, the Mississippi congressman and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
  • Gwen Moore, a congresswoman from Wisconsin.
  • John Kasich, the former governor of Ohio who ran against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016 and became an outspoken opponent of the president.
  • Doug Jones, the senator from Alabama who is the most endangered Democrat up for reelection this year.
  • Amy Klobuchar, the senator from Minnesota, another swing state, who also ran in the Democratic presidential primaries.


  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the liberal 30-year-old congresswoman from New York whose surprise win over an incumbent Democrat in 2018 catapulted her into the national spotlight.
  • Bill Clinton, the former president.
  • Sally Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney general who was fired by Trump when she refused to defend his travel ban.
  • Charles E. Schumer, the Senate minority leader from New York.
  • John F. Kerry, the former secretary of state and the Democratic Party’s 2004 presidential nominee.
  • Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman to represent Delaware in Congress and part of Biden’s vice-presidential vetting committee.
  • Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife and an educator.


  • Kamala D. Harris, Biden’s running mate.
  • Barack Obama, the last Democratic president and a popular figure in the party.
  • Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts and former presidential candidate.
  • Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House.
  • Hillary Clinton, the party’s 2016 nominee, former senator and former secretary of state.
  • Tony Evers, the governor of Wisconsin.
  • Michelle Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico.
  • Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman from Arizona who helms a group aimed at preventing gun violence.


  • Tammy Duckworth, the Illinois senator and veteran.
  • Keisha Lance Bottoms, the Atlanta mayor.
  • Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator and former presidential candidate.
  • Gavin Newsom, the governor of California.
  • Tammy Baldwin, the senator from Wisconsin.
  • Christopher A. Coons, the senator from Delaware and a Biden confidant.
  • Joe Biden and his family.

Why was it going to be in Milwaukee?

Parties like to hold their conventions in swing states. The Democrats picked Milwaukee in March 2019, planning to hold days of events in the Fiserv Forum and nearby. Hillary Clinton lost Wisconsin in 2016, but Democrats won all statewide races there in 2018, and it’s a key target for both parties in 2020.

What actually happens at a convention?

Usually there are meetings and gatherings and lobbying and partying. But the main business is nominating the party’s candidate. Usually, thousands of delegates would gather in an arena. The delegation from each state is called upon, someone from the state extols its greatness and then announces how many of its delegates it’s pledging for each candidate. This year, that roll call will happen Tuesday, virtually.

What about the Republican convention?

It was going to be in Charlotte, in a state President Trump won four years earlier. When Republicans were worried that coronavirus-related restrictions would keep them from having large in-person events, they said they were moving to a city in another swing state, Jacksonville, Fla., but later canceled events there as well when coronavirus cases rose. Now, Trump says he will probably deliver his acceptance speech from the White House. The actual nomination will happen in Charlotte.

Courtesy/Source: Washington Post