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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10:06 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Cuomo: Covid exposed deeper sickness in American life

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Source: Pool

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, one of Biden's earliest supporters, said on Monday night that the country's failure to contain the coronavirus pandemic is a "symptom" of a deeper rot in government and society.

"Covid is the symptom, not the illness," Cuomo said. "Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, Covid is just a metaphor. A virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. Over these past few years, America's body politic has been weakened, the divisions have grown deeper."

Those troubles didn't begin with President Donald Trump's rise, Cuomo said, but they have become worse during his time in office.

"Only a strong body can fight off the virus," he said, "and America's divisions weakened it."

Following on a theme of the first night of the convention, Cuomo argued that electing Biden in November would be a first step toward healing the country's wounds -- and described the former vice president as a unique figure who is "tough in the best way."

"We need a leader as good as our people, a leader who appeals to the best within us, not the worst, a leader who can unify, not divide, a leader who can bring us up, not tear us down," Cuomo said. "I know that man. I've worked with that man. I've seen his talent. I've seen his strength. I've seen his pain and I've seen his heart. That man is Joe Biden."

Watch:

9:51 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Clyburn: "Joe Biden is as good a man as he is a leader"

From CNN's Dan Merica

Jim Clyburn, Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives and representing South Carolina's 6th District.
Jim Clyburn, Majority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives and representing South Carolina's 6th District. Source: Pool

South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn touted Joe Biden as the right leader for this moment because of both his ability to understand loss and his decency.

“Joe Biden is as good a man as he is a leader,” Clyburn said in a speech that focused on racial justice, adding that the country needs "a president who understands both profound loss; and what it takes to bounce back.”

Clyburn endorsed Biden on the eve of the South Carolina primary in February. The endorsement put Biden over the edge in the state that proved determinative in the Democratic primary, earning Clyburn significant influence on the Biden campaign.

Speaking from Charleston, South Carolina, Clyburn noted the city’s history with slavery, but also focused on its future combatting racism.

“The ground beneath our feet is seeded with pain that is both old and new,” Clyburn said. “But from that soil we always find a way to grow together.”

He added: “I have said before and wish to reiterate tonight; we know Joe — but more importantly, Joe knows us.”

11:45 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Moment of silence held at DNC for George Floyd

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother, held a moment of silence in honor of his brother and the "many other souls we’ve lost to hate and injustice."

"Please join me in a moment of silence, to honor George and the many other souls we’ve lost to hate and injustice. And when this moment ends, let’s make sure we never stop saying their names," Floyd said.

Watch the moment:

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.