Democratic National Convention 2020: Day 2

By Melissa Macaya, Kyle Blaine and Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 6:20 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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5:05 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Jill Biden will make the case for her husband in highly personal terms

From CNN's Arlette Saenz

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden hugs his wife Jill as he speaks at a town hall event in Des Moines on February 2.
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden hugs his wife Jill as he speaks at a town hall event in Des Moines on February 2. Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

As she prepares to deliver the biggest political speech of her career, Jill Biden will speak in personal and optimistic terms, a source familiar with her remarks says, as she makes the case for her husband Joe Biden as president.

“You’re going to hear who she is and she’s going to tell you about who Joe Biden is – the father, the husband, the grandfather,” the source said. “She’s going to talk about what drives him to do this, what motivates him, but also the faith and values that guide him and the family.”

Tonight’s speech also will serve as a reintroduction of sorts for the former second lady who now hopes to step into the role of first lady if her husband’s elected, with the source saying, “You’re going to see what kind of first lady she’s going to be.”

Some background: Jill Biden has already committed to teaching if she becomes first lady, the second time she’d have to balance the official duties of a presidential administration with her personal career obligations.

Jill Biden, who has a doctorate in education, is also expected to confront the issue of education through the backdrop of her speech – a high school classroom where she taught English nearly three decades ago – as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as parents, students and educators are grappling with reopening schools safely and remote learning, the source said.

Jill Biden has often talked about how the role of political spouse has not come naturally to her, but over the course of the Democratic primary, she was among the most active political spouses on the campaign trail, honing her message and offering the most personal testimony to her husband’s character and leadership style – something she’s expected to do once again tonight.

4:51 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez given a minute to speak tonight

From CNN's Dan Merica and Gregory Krieg

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks with members of the media before a Green New Deal For Public Housing Town Hall on December 14, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York.
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks with members of the media before a Green New Deal For Public Housing Town Hall on December 14, 2019 in the Queens borough of New York. Yana Paskova/Getty Images

The convention organizers only gave Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez one minute to speak, but there's a good bet those 60 seconds will be the most buzzed about of the night.

Ocasio-Cortez is, by any measure, one of the most influential young political leaders in America. She is better suited than any other Democrat to this week's virtual medium, which has more in common with an Instagram live video than a standard convention hall address.

She won't have much time to do it, but Ocasio-Cortez is expected to use her turn to spotlight Sanders' success in awakening and driving forward a progressive movement that will send some of its brightest new stars to Capitol Hill next year. Still, for those holding out hope she'll mix in a blunt rejection of Biden's liberal-leaning centrism, disappointment awaits.

In the months since Sanders dropped out of the primary, Ocasio-Cortez has largely set aside the intra-party debates of the past (and future), focusing instead on a home district that's been battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

She also co-chaired, along with Kerry, the Biden-Sanders "unity task force" on climate, the policy group that produced — of the six formed by the two campaigns — the recommendations regarded as most likely to surface again if Biden wins in November.

5:05 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Missed the first night of the convention? Here are some highlights

From CNN's Kate Sullivan, Eric Bradner, Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica

In this image from video, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17.
In this image from video, former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Aug. 17. Democratic National Convention/AP

The coronavirus pandemic forced Democrats to move their entire national convention online. There were no major technical glitches, and overall, Democrats appeared to effectively pull it off.

The first night highlighted individual Americans across the country hurt by the pandemic and President Trump's politics and policies. Kristin Urquiza, whose father died after contracting the coronavirus, delivered a line that will likely echo for the rest of the campaign: "My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life."  

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and other former Republicans sought to make the case that Joe Biden is the best candidate to win over moderate Republican voters.

Family members of George Floyd, killed by police on Memorial Day in Minneapolis, and the mother of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a police officer in New York six years ago, both spoke. Biden also moderated a short panel discussion on racial justice.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made the case for Biden, appealing to his own supporters who are frustrated by Biden's refusal to embrace policies like "Medicare for All." Sanders noted the former vice president's increasingly ambitious climate change plans and warned that Biden's election was key to safeguarding the left's recent gains.

Michelle Obama closed out the night, and her address represented one of the most effective moral arguments against Trump's presidency from a prominent Democrat.

Obama excoriated Trump for what she called "a total and utter lack of empathy" in the most important speech of Monday night's program.

Her role was clear: The former first lady got nearly 19 minutes — the longest speaking slot of the night, by far — to tear into Trump's character.

"I know that regardless of our race, age, religion, or politics, when we close out the noise and the fear and truly open our hearts, we know that what's going on in this country is just not right," she said. "This is not who we want to be."

Read six takeaways from the DNC's first night here.

3:56 p.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Stacey Abrams among rising Democratic Party stars to deliver joint keynote address tonight

From CNN's Sarah Mucha and Dan Merica

Politician Stacey Abrams speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women in Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 11, 2019 in Hollywood.
Politician Stacey Abrams speaks onstage during The Hollywood Reporter's Power 100 Women in Entertainment at Milk Studios on December 11, 2019 in Hollywood. Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter

Stacey Abrams and 16 other rising stars of the Democratic Party will deliver a joint keynote address during Tuesday night's Democratic National Convention programming, a slot typically reserved for just one speaker.

The elected officials will speak under the evening's theme, "Leadership Matters," offering a "diversity of different ideas" and "perspectives on how to move America forward," according to a news release from the DNC.

Several of the speakers are some of former Vice President Joe Biden's early primary supporters, including Pennsylvania State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, South Carolina State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, and Nevada State Sen. Yvanna Cancela.

Reps. Colin Allred of Texas and Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, who both stumped for Biden in Iowa ahead of the state's caucuses, are also slated to speak.

"Amidst all of the chaos and crises our nation is facing, Democrats are focused on finding new and innovative ways to engage more Americans than ever before — because that's how we'll mobilize the nation to defeat Donald Trump in November," Convention CEO Joe Solmonese said in a statement. "The convention keynote has always been the bellwether for the future of our party and our nation, and when Americans tune in next week they'll find the smart, steady leadership we need to meet this critical moment."

Jill Biden and Bill Clinton are also slated to deliver remarks during Tuesday night's program.