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The Hill's Convention Report: Democratic National Convention kicks off virtually

The Hill's Convention Report: Democratic National Convention kicks off virtually
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Welcome to The Hill’s Convention Report, your daily rundown on all the latest news in the 2020 presidential, Senate and House races. Did someone forward this to you? Click here to subscribe.

We’re Julia Manchester, Max Greenwood and Jonathan Easley. Here’s what we’re watching today on the campaign trail. 

 

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LEADING THE DAY: 

The first day of the Democratic National Convention is here, and it’s safe to say the scaled-back event in the time of the coronavirus will look unlike any convention that has come before it.

Democrats will rely on former first lady Michelle ObamaMichelle LeVaughn Robinson ObamaObama: 'Hopeless' to try to sell as many books as Michelle Obama sold record-breaking 1.7 million copies of memoir in first week Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk MORE to jumpstart the proceedings, putting one of the party’s most beloved figures in the spotlight to begin the four-day-long event that will culminate with Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE accepting the presidential nomination to go up against President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE in the fall.

For Obama, a best-selling author and one of the most popular women in America, it will be a rare foray into campaign politics. The former first lady has not been a major surrogate for the Biden campaign so far. On Monday night, she’s expected to go to bat for the former vice president, while also offering up a blistering critique of Trump and the direction the country has gone under his leadership.

The two overriding themes we’re expecting to emerge from the first night of the convention:

 

  • Racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement in a time of deep civil unrest
  • The coronavirus pandemic and its devastating health and economic tolls, particularly among people of color

 

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Look for both of these issues to permeate pretty much everything Democrats talk about over the next four days.

On the racial equality front, we’re expecting a big moment from House Democratic Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), who will speak from a rooftop in South Carolina across from Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, the site of a 2015 shooting where a white supremacist killed nine people.

Meanwhile, two prominent critics of Trump’s response to the coronavirus will get the spotlight: New York Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoFor Thanksgiving, the Supreme Court upholds religious liberty Cardinal Dolan hails Supreme Court decision on churches, COVID-19 Cuomo blames new conservative majority for high court's COVID-19 decision MORE (D) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen WhitmerGretchen WhitmerPope Francis swipes at groups protesting COVID-19 restrictions in NYT op-ed Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Oregon governor urges hosts to 'uninvite' guests MORE (D). Democrats will also feature frontline health care workers and families of victims of the pandemic.

The left’s biggest star, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift In defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism MORE (I-Vt.), will also address the convention on Monday night.

But what would a Democratic convention be without some…Republicans?

Republicans who oppose Trump have landed key speaking roles, much to the consternation of some progressives, who see no reason to have their rivals speak for them.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio) will address the convention, as will former New Jersey Gov. Christine Whitman, former Rep. Susan Molinari (N.Y.), and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. 

Biden has said he intends to compete for Republican voters who have grown dissatisfied with Trump. But there is opposition on the left to having the Republicans speak. Kasich and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who has a speaking role later this week, sniped at each other on Monday.

TWEET: https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1295404964244791298

Can Democrats pull off the first-ever all-virtual convention? Will Americans tune to watch speeches from empty living rooms and convention halls? Just how weird will the convention look without the buzz and hum of thousands of operatives, activists and reporters having descended on Milwaukee for a days-long frenzy of meetings and parties? Stay with The Hill to find out…

Niall Stanage: Five things to watch for at the Democratic convention

Jonathan Easley: Biden rides high, but faces angst-ridden party

Alex Gangitano: Lobbyists make do with virtual convention

 

TRUMP COUNTERPROGRAMMING:

Don’t expect Trump to cede the spotlight to Democrats all week.

The president has embarked on a tour of battleground states that will see him touch down in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Monday for speeches on jobs and the economy. The president is also considering a last-minute stop in Iowa.

Trump won Iowa comfortably in 2016, but polls show a tight race there between him and Biden. The president narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016, making it a core swing state this time around. Minnesota leans blue but the Trump campaign has circled it as a potential offensive play and is bolstered by a poll last week that found the president within 3 points of Biden there.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee is getting ready for Trump’s own acceptance speech from the White House next week. They’ve obtained a fireworks permit at the Washington Monument.

 

POST OFFICE POLITICS:

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Some breaking news developments around the political battle that has ensnared the U.S. Postal Service:

 

Democrats are livid over what they view as changes at the USPS they say are deliberately designed to slow down the mail or sow confusion ahead of an election in which mail people will be relying on mail and absentee ballots. 

Trump has been fanning the flames of their concerns, saying he doesn’t want to fund the USPS because it will lead to an avalanche of mail balloting the he says will benefit Democrats in the election.

The Hill’s Mike Lillis and Cristina Marcos have the full story HERE.

 

PRE-CONVENTION POLLING UPDATE 

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Biden is coming into the DNC with a lead over Trump in a number of national polls released within the last 24 hours. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released on Monday shows Biden leading 53 percent to 41 percent. Meanwhile, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday shows Biden ahead 50 percent to 41 percent. The former vice president could also see the traditional convention bump in the polls this week, although some strategist are doubtful the virtual convention will have the same kind of impact.

But many Democrats are saying not so fast, warning against getting too confident in Biden’s poll numbers. In fact, a CNN poll released on Sunday showed a tightening race with Biden leading Trump by just 4 points, 50 percent to 46 percent. That’s down from Biden’s lead of 14 points the last time the poll was conducted in June. 

 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

We’re 7 days from the beginning of the Republican National Convention, 43 days from the first presidential debate and 78 days out from Election Day. 

The Democratic National Convention’s main programming is slated to start tonight at 9 p.m. and will run until 11 p.m. Here’s a look at the speaker lineup (exact times TBD):

 



CARDI B AND JOEY B 

Biden sat down with rapper Cardi B in an interview for Elle on Monday, touching on a wide-range of topics including childcare and his daughter’s nickname for him. 

“You know the nickname she gave me when she was growing up? She called me Joey B. So we may be related,” Biden joked. 

Why it matters: Cardi B was a vocal supporter of progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid, bringing a number of young supporters and voters into the fold. The support of figures like Cardi B could stand to rally a wide array of voters including young people, progressives and people of color, all of whom are crucial to Democratic success at the ballot box.