Highlights Of The Day 2 Of The Democratic National Convention

Aug 18, 2020
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LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The Democrats are back on your screens and your radio later this evening. On night two of the Democratic National Convention, we'll hear from former second lady Jill Biden and former President Bill Clinton. New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will also speak briefly. NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow is in Delaware, where Joe Biden will accept the Democratic nomination on Thursday. And he joins us now. Hey, Scott.

SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good afternoon.

FADEL: So night two of the convention is typically when there's a keynote address, which often highlights an up-and-coming voice. But like so much else, things are really different this year. Tell us about that.

DETROW: Yeah, this is one of those things that people have focused on when they talk about what might be lost or what might be different going away from the full convention. This is often an opportunity for a rising star to leave a mark. And the most famous example by far was State Senator Barack Obama in 2004, who became an instant political star even before he was elected to the Senate. There's been a couple other examples of keynotes that really changed careers. New York Governor Mario Cuomo is an example from 1984.

This year, the Democrats are going with 17 different speakers. It's a broad geographic and demographic mix of younger rising leaders - most prominent Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who's now focusing on voting rights. You'll also have voices like Pennsylvania Congressman Conor Lamb, who gained attention as the first Democrat in 2018 to flip a House seat using that general approach that the Biden campaign is now taking of trying to appeal to dissatisfied moderate voters. So this really gets to the way the Democrats have changed the convention as a whole. You're going to have a lot more voices from all over the country but speaking for shorter moments.

FADEL: So the final remarks tonight go to Joe Biden's wife, the former second lady Jill Biden. What's notable to you about her presence?

DETROW: Yeah. This will be a moment of national introduction for Jill Biden, probably. She was, of course, the second lady for eight years, but she was often overshadowed by Michelle Obama, who, of course, spoke last night and really forcefully denounced President Trump and urged people to vote this fall.

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MICHELLE OBAMA: So if you take one thing from my words tonight, it is this - if you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me. They can, and they will if we don't make a change in this election. If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it.

DETROW: You know, very few people in this country can give a speech like Michelle Obama, and I think Jill Biden will give a very different speech. She's a lifelong educator. She continued to teach community college when Joe Biden was vice president. And tonight, she'll be speaking from her first classroom in Delaware. And based on what we've heard from the campaign, we can expect her to tell people about Joe Biden's character, his life story. And she'll also be speaking from a school about something that millions of families are thinking a lot about right now, and that's how coronavirus has disrupted school and how to start to get back to the normal classroom experience that just seems thousands of miles away for students all over the country.

FADEL: That's on lots of people's minds. So run down the programming list for us some. What else can people expect?

DETROW: You're going to hear from two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez will briefly nominate Bernie Sanders, and that'll kick off the roll call, which is traditionally a moment of a crowded convention floor. But this will be a montage from states all over the country. Also, you'll hear from Ady Barkan, who's a high-profile activist who's pushed for "Medicare for All." Of course, Joe Biden does not support that, but Barkan has endorsed him anyway and will explain why.

FADEL: That's NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow. Scott, thank you.

DETROW: Thank you.

FADEL: We'll have live special coverage of the DNC tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. And you can follow along with the latest updates on npr.org.

(SOUNDBITE OF FOUK'S "COCONUTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.