Democratic National Convention 2020: Day 1

By Melissa Macaya, Kyle Blaine and Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 6:16 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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9:39 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

George Floyd's brother: "It’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice"

Philonise Floyd, right, George Floyd's brother.
Philonise Floyd, right, George Floyd's brother. Source: Pool

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, addressed the Democratic National Convention and recalled the movement that the death of his brother began around the world.

"George was selfless. He always made sacrifices for his family, friends, and even complete strangers. George had a giving spirit. A spirit that has shown up on streets around our nation, and around the world—people of all races, all ages, all genders, all backgrounds—peacefully protesting in the name of love and unity."

"It’s a fitting legacy for our brother. But George should be alive today. Breonna Taylor should be alive today. Ahmaud Arbery should be alive today. Eric Garner should be alive today. Stephon Clark, Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland—they should all be alive today," he continued.

"So it’s up to us to carry on the fight for justice. Our actions will be their legacies. We must always find ourselves in what John Lewis called 'good trouble.' For the names we do not know, the faces we will never see, those we can’t mourn because their murders didn’t go viral," Floyd said.

9:47 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Rep. Moore at DNC: "We gather virtually, however we gather unified in spirit"

From CNN's Keith Allen

Rep. Gwen Moore from Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District.
Rep. Gwen Moore from Wisconsin’s 4th Congressional District. Source: Pool

Speaking at the Democratic National Convention Monday night, Rep. Gwen Moore said she was honored to open the festivities in her home state, even if the delegates and supporters weren’t physically gathered in Milwaukee.

“We gather virtually, however we gather unified in spirit, unified in our values and purpose to heal divisions and together move the nation confidently into a prosperous, inclusive future,” Rep. Moore said.

“What better way to gather than all across America to nominate my beloved friend, Joe Biden to be the 46th President of the United States of America, with my VIP, VP nominee, sister Kamala Harris by his side," she added.

10:53 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Democrats kick off the first night of their convention

From CNN's Maeve Reston

Actress Eva Longoria hosts the Democratic National Convention on August 17.
Actress Eva Longoria hosts the Democratic National Convention on August 17. Source: Pool

Democrats have kicked off their quadrennial convention in a mostly virtual format as they try to look to stir excitement about the newly minted ticket of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at a time when Americans are rightly distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic turmoil it has created.

Former first lady Michelle Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo are among the headliners for the first night of programming that will be emceed by actress Eva Longoria.

In an effort to broaden the party's appeal at a time when a new CNN poll shows the race between Biden and President Donald Trump tightening, Democrats added three Republican women to Monday night's lineup, which was already slated to include former Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich.

Party officials have said that Monday's theme will be "We the People" — with remarks focused on how the country can unite and move forward. The party also released a video excerpt of the remarks that Michelle Obama will deliver in a taped address, where she clearly plans to serve as a character witness for Biden, who she will call "a profoundly decent man guided by his faith" and someone who served as a "terrific vice president" to her husband

Joe Biden speaks out about family tragedy in new CNN doc:

9:03 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Buttigieg: Trump "is losing the election right now"

From CNN's Leinz Vales and Kevin Liptak 

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Source: CNN

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said for President Trump to warn of a "rigged election" if he loses the presidential election is "not surprising" and "extremely disturbing."

"He's losing the election right now," Buttigieg told CNN's Jake Tapper ahead of the Democratic National Convention, which kicks off Monday night. "Donald Trump is historically unpopular president. He's losing to Joe Biden. That doesn't mean that he'll automatically lose. We got to do the work. We got to earn this victory. But that's the state of play."

"For him to try to preemptively attack the legitimacy of the election by definition if he loses it on one hand not surprising and something we need to prepare for as a country and on the other hand, extremely disturbing because it strikes at the heart of our system."

More context: President Trump on Monday used some of his starkest language yet in falsely warning of fraudulent election results during remarks in Wisconsin.

"The only way we're going to lose this election is if this election is rigged," President Trump said during a stop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the second of several battleground events he is using this week to counterprogram the Democrats' virtual convention.

"I've won elections and I've lost elections and losing elections is no fun, but when you do, you stand aside," Buttigieg said. "Because there is something so much more important than your own political success and that's this democracy, this country and listening to the will of voters. That the president of the united States is not committed to that, that's bad news for democracy itself and of course, it's bad news for America."

8:57 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Here's why Republicans for Biden are speaking on the same night as Bernie Sanders

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

The number of “Republicans for Biden” groups have been steadily growing, with high-profile organizations like the Lincoln Project and others gaining significant attention in their fight against President Trump.

The Biden campaign decided against including the Lincoln Project in its convention, a senior Democratic official said, but instead chose former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and three prominent Republican women in the lineup tonight. 

The speech from Kasich is designed to move Republicans concerned with Trump, but it’s also intended to combat the argument from the Trump campaign that the Biden-Harris ticket is a radical, liberal one. 

It’s aimed at independents — men and women — to give yet another permission slip to vote against Trump and for Biden.

The blowback from progressive groups is predictable, but a senior Biden adviser said these speeches were intentionally placed tonight — on the same evening as Bernie Sanders, to show the Biden big tent.

8:47 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Nevada senator to "rebuke" Trump's attacks on mail in voting

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., arrives for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday, June 9.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., arrives for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday, June 9. Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/AP

Democratic officials say Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto will use her speech to emphasize the need to protect mail-in voting and issue a “rebuke” of President Donald Trump as a legal battle plays out in her state over vote by mail.

She’ll call out the president for requesting absentee ballots for himself and say, “Mr. President, Nevada is not intimidated by you.”

This comes as Democrats are increasingly concerned about the President’s efforts to cast doubt upon mail-in voting heading into the fall election.

8:38 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

George Floyd’s brother to speak tonight at DNC

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, gives his opening statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the U.S. Capitol on June 10, in Washington, DC.
Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, gives his opening statement during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Policing Practices and Law Enforcement Accountability at the U.S. Capitol on June 10, in Washington, DC. Michael Reynolds/Pool/Getty Images

A moment of silence will be held at the virtual Democratic National Convention for George Floyd, with his brother speaking from Texas tonight in support of Joe Biden as the country continues its reckoning on racial justice and police reform.

A senior Democratic official tells CNN that Philonise Floyd will address the convention.

It is not a deeply political speech, but rather a nod to the man whose death sparked a summer of protests and demands for real acknowledgement and change to systemic racism.

8:29 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Sanders to seek to unify party to remove "most dangerous president in history"

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders makes his entrance during a campaign rally at the TCF Center on March 6 in Detroit, Michigan.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders makes his entrance during a campaign rally at the TCF Center on March 6 in Detroit, Michigan. Brittany Greeson/Getty Images

Four months after he bowed out of the presidential race, Bernie Sanders speaks tonight with the goal of uniting Democrats behind Joe Biden.

Over the course of 8 minutes from Vermont, an aide to Sanders says the progressive Vermont senator will urge the country to come together to “remove the most dangerous president in history and elect Joe Biden.”

Biden and Sanders have not seen each other in person since their one-on-one primary debate in March, but the two speak regularly, the aide said, as their teams have worked closely since April on policy and efforts to unite the party. It’s a different approach for Sanders after a drawn out fight with Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

Tonight, he’s expected to rally progressives and all Democrats around Biden’s candidacy, sending a message to those who backed other candidates in the primary and voted for Trump in 2016, arguing the future of democracy and the economy is at stake and warning ”the price of failure is just too great to imagine.”

7:47 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Here's what to watch on day one of the DNC

From CNN's Eric Bradner and Gregory Krieg

In this July 25, 2016 photo, then-First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd after delivering remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Pennsylvania.
In this July 25, 2016 photo, then-First Lady Michelle Obama acknowledges the crowd after delivering remarks on the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Democratic National Convention kicks off this evening with a two-hour virtual event built on a theme of unity.

It will be a convention unlike any other: The coronavirus pandemic forced Democrats to scrap their planned in-person Milwaukee convention.

Instead, speakers will deliver speeches from locations across the country and without the large in-person crowds that are traditionally seen at these events. All eyes will be on how smoothly the transition to a virtual convention works.

The four-night event begins as former Vice President Joe Biden's lead is showing signs of narrowing. In a CNN poll released Sunday night, 50% of registered voters backed Biden to Trump's 46%, which is right at the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Top speakers of the night include former first lady Michelle Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and a Republican — former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

Obama and Sanders are two of the most popular figures in Democratic politics. Kasich, a former presidential candidate, is emblematic of the kind of anti-Trump Republican who Biden is hoping to win over in November.

Here's what to watch starting at 9 p.m. ET Monday, on the first of four nights of the DNC:

Actress and activist Eva Longoria to kick off tonight's events: Longoria, known for her role on Desperate Housewives, will lead this evening's programming. The actress co-founded Latino Victory Fund, the first national Latino organization to endorse Joe Biden for president.

Michelle Obama's speech: Obama is one of the nation's most popular public figures — known for saying in her 2016 DNC speech, "when they go low, we go high." But her speech Monday will come at a different moment in time — one that sees Trump running for reelection amid a global pandemic and protests against racism. On an evening devoted to a message of unity, how Obama injects optimism into the anxiety Democrats have felt about Trump's tenure — and November's election — could bring Monday's most significant moment.

Bernie Sanders in the spotlight: Since he dropped out of the race in the spring, Sanders has worked to tamp down any potential insurrection against Biden from the party's left. Tonight, Sanders will be offered his largest platform since his final debate with Biden. This time, though, he will be walking a thin line — simultaneously trying to appeal to his young base on Biden's behalf, while also using the spotlight to make the case for his own policy agenda.

Read more about tonight's events here.