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Democrats Set Stage to Nominate Biden at Virtual Convention

FILE - Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., July 28, 2020.
FILE - Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks about his plans to combat racial inequality at a campaign event in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., July 28, 2020.

Top U.S. Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, are among a host of party leaders planning to speak at next week’s Democratic National Convention to boost the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden in November’s presidential election.

The convention will be a first in American political history, conducted entirely in virtual electronic reality from around the country. Four nights of speeches start Monday and culminate with Biden’s presidential nomination acceptance speech on August 20 delivered from his home state of Delaware.

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The party was forced to move its planned convention speeches touting Biden – and condemning the White House tenure of Republican President Donald Trump -- from the midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, because of the unabated spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Thousands of would-be convention delegates were told to stay home rather than travel to Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Center is seen Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Milwaukee.

The virtual convention will include a speech from Biden’s running mate, whom aides say could be named as soon as Wednesday.

He promised months ago it would be a woman, who would become the fourth woman to appear on a major party ticket. The previous three all lost, two as vice presidential nominees and Clinton in her presidential contest against Trump.

Biden’s vice-presidential pick is seen as particularly consequential. If he defeats Trump, Biden would be 78 at his inauguration in January, the oldest U.S. president ever. Trump is 74.

Numerous U.S. political analysts are assuming Biden would serve only one four-year term if he wins the Nov. 3 election, instantly making his 2020 running mate a key 2024 Democratic presidential contender.

Among the vice-presidential possibilities, all a decade or two younger than he is, are California Senator Kamala Harris, who opposed Biden for the party’s presidential nomination; former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth and Congresswoman Karen Bass of California.

Democrats are planning an array of speakers with each of the four nights of the convention organized around a different theme: “We the People,” “Leadership Matters,” “A More Perfect Union” and “America’s Promise.”

Monday’s speakers include former first lady Michelle Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont -- the leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party and Biden’s last challenger for the party’s presidential nomination -- and former Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio, who has become an outspoken Trump critic.

Former President Bill Clinton, Biden’s wife Jill, a long-time educator; 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer are among those speaking Tuesday night.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, former President Obama and Biden’s vice-presidential nominee are speaking Wednesday.

The convention winds up on Thursday with speeches from more top Democratic figures and Biden family members, culminating with Biden’s keynote speech accepting the nomination.

Republicans are holding their national convention starting August 24, also much of it virtually, with some events in Charlotte, North Carolina. Trump said Monday he plans to deliver his August 27 presidential acceptance speech from the White House or at a storied 1863 Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.