Democratic National Convention: What you need to know for night two

The second night is all about featuring current and past Democratic heavyweights. Former president Bill Clinton, former secretary of state John F. Kerry, current top Senate Democrat Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, will all be speaking Tuesday night.

So, too, will one of the nation’s most prominent liberals, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the co-author of the Green New Deal who is helping Biden’s campaign on climate policy. But blink and you’ll miss it. She has a 60-second video slot. There’s probably a practical and political reason for that. Organizers are trying to keep speeches short, because there’s only so much you can do with a webcam and a few hours each night, but Ocasio-Cortez is also a polarizing figure on the right whom Republicans would love to tie to Biden.

Want to know what to expect from the rest of the convention and who is speaking each night? Keep reading.

When is the Democratic National Convention?

The convention will be held over four days; it started on Monday and will end on Thursday. Programming is scheduled for 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time each night. The event was originally scheduled for July but was pushed back because of 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 although 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 give their speeches at the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del., a waterfront event center with several ballrooms and an auditorium. The behind-the-scenes crew of about 400 has operation centers in New York, Milwaukee, Los Angeles and Wilmington. Live broadcasts will be carried at a portion of the roughly 300 drive-in movie theaters still left in the country.

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. Speakers have been mailed video-production kits, with basic equipment such as microphones, lighting and advanced routers, so they can produce and transmit their own shots.

On Monday, Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders spoke, as well as a few former Republican officeholders who now oppose Trump.


  • 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. She and Bob King, the former president of the United Auto Workers union, will give nominating speeches for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has amassed enough delegates to have some states vote for him at the convention, even though Biden will be the nominee.
  • 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.
  • Stacey Abrams, Democrats’ former gubernatorial nominee in Georgia, as well as 16 other Democrats from across the country whom the party deems “rising stars,” like a state senator in Tennessee, a congressman from Texas who is a former NFL player, Conor Lamb, who won a big race for Democrats in Pennsylvania in 2018, and the youngest mayor of Birmingham, Ala., in a century.
  • Caroline Kennedy and Jack Schlossberg, daughter and grandson, respectively, of former president John F. Kennedy. Caroline Kennedy is also a former U.S. ambassador.
  • Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, the oldest-living former president and first lady
  • Lisa Blunt Rochester, the first woman to represent Delaware in Congress and part of Biden’s vice-presidential vetting committee. She and Chris Coons, a senator from Delaware and a close ally of Biden, will deliver the speech nominating Biden.
  • Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife and an educator.
  • Democrats will also host a roll call vote to cast their votes for Biden as the nominee. (Though Sanders will receive votes from the states he won.) One or two delegates from each state will cast their state’s votes, ranging from members of Congress and governors, to gun control activists, to teachers and firefighters. For Indiana, former South Bend mayor and 2020 presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg will cast his state’s delegates’ votes.
  • Actress Tracee Ellis Ross will introduce some speakers, and there will be a performance at the end of the night from John Legend.


  • 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?

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 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, in 30 minutes.

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 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 on Monday, Aug. 24, with events scheduled for the following three days and ending in the Trump speech on Thursday, Aug. 27.