(Aug. 17) The Democratic convention is offering a speaking slot to Republican former Ohio Governor John Kasich, as well as to Joe Biden’s final rival for the nomination, progressive Bernie Sanders, according to a person familiar with the planning.
Also in the lineup is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose political fame rose as he held daily televised briefings while his state was among the first and hardest hit by the coronavirus.
The selection of Kasich would signal Biden’s effort to reach out to Republicans and independents who may be disappointed in President Donald Trump, and a key slot for Sanders indicates a desire to smooth over any ill will between Biden’s camp and progressive Democrats.
Sanders also spoke at the Democratic convention in 2016 after he was defeated by eventual nominee Hillary Clinton, who will also speak this year.
More traditional fare rounds out the lineup, including former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton as well as former first lady Michelle Obama. Biden’s wife, Jill Biden will also have time to speak.
The Biden campaign said this week that he will accept the nomination from his home state of Delaware, effectively canceling the shrinking convention over fears of spreading the virus. All speakers will address the convention remotely.
Democrats adopted the theme “Uniting America,” a swipe at the divisive politics that have consumed Washington for four years, said Stephanie Cutter, DNCC program executive.
“This convention is for all Americans, no matter who you voted for in the past,” Cutter said in a statement. “We will unite America around the critical task of electing Joe Biden as president in November so we can begin to build a more just, more democratic, kinder and stronger country—a better America.”
The convention themes each night will be: “We the People,” “Leadership Matters,” “A More Perfect Union” and “America’s Promise.”
The Republicans also canceled their in-person convention, deciding to hold a small Republican National Committee meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, the original site of the GOP gathering.
Cuomo was widely hailed for his initial response to the coronavirus pandemic, including his daily televised briefings. Cuomo’s father, New York Governor Mario Cuomo, also delivered a convention keynote address in 1984.
Sanders, the last remaining Biden opponent in the Democratic primary will speak on the same night as Kasich, who continued to speak out against Trump after Trump became the nominee in 2016.
Politico first reported that Sanders and Kasich would speak on the same night, as well as the participation of both Clintons and Obamas.
A convention official declined to confirm the lineup but also said the week would include a tribute to Representative John Lewis, a civil rights icon who died in late July.
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