Democratic National Convention 2020: Day 1

By Melissa Macaya, Kyle Blaine and Jessica Estepa, CNN

Updated 6:16 p.m. ET, August 19, 2020
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11:07 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Michelle Obama: Donald Trump is the "wrong" president

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former First Lady Michel
Former First Lady Michel Source: Pool

Michelle Obama lambasted Donald Trump as the “wrong” president for the United States in her speech to the Democratic National Convention on Monday.

In the straight-to-camera, pre-taped remarks, the former first lady said the White House is failing to provide “steadiness” and instead is only delivering “chaos, division, and a total and utter lack of empathy.”

“So, let me be as honest and clear as I possibly can. Donald Trump is the wrong president for our country,” Obama said. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head. He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us. It is what it is.”

Obama, the final speaker of the first night of the convention, laid out a litany of criticism of Trump’s first four years of office, slamming the support the President receives from white supremacists, his immigration policies and how he has handled recent protest about racial injustice.

“As I’ve said before, being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are. Well, a presidential election can reveal who we are, too,” Obama said. “And four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn’t matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn’t be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. Whatever the reason, in the end, those choices sent someone to the Oval Office who lost the national popular vote by nearly 3,000,000 votes.”

Event organizers hope that the former first lady would provide a soaring end to the first night of the convention, much like she did for Hillary Clinton in 2016.


11:24 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Bernie Sanders: Democracy is in doubt if Trump wins

From CNN's Gregory Krieg

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Source: Pool

Bernie Sanders on Monday night offered his most forceful argument yet on behalf of former primary rival Joe Biden, beseeching his supporters to back the Democratic nominee in November or risk seeing “all the progress we have made” be thrown into doubt.

“Our campaign ended several months ago, but our movement continues and is getting stronger every day,” Sanders said. “Many of the ideas we fought for that just a few years ago were considered radical are now mainstream. But let us be clear. If Donald Trump is re-elected, all the progress we have made will be in jeopardy.”

Sanders also took direct aim at Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the administration’s refusal to engage with Democrats seeking to extend ramped-up unemployment benefits and other aid to workers and hard-hit communities.

“Millions of working families are wondering how they will feed their kids, and they're worried that they will be evicted from their homes,” Sanders said. “And how has Trump responded? Instead of maintaining the $600 a week unemployment supplement that workers were receiving and the $1,200 emergency checks that many of you received, instead of helping small businesses, Trump concocted fraudulent executive orders that do virtually nothing to address the crisis while threatening the very future of Social Security and Medicare.”

Sanders also sprinkled in an uncharacteristic zinger.

“Nero fiddled while Rome burned,” the Vermont senator said. “Trump golfs.”

As he’s done throughout the campaign, and during his own, Sanders also expressed concern that Trump’s rise mirrored those of authoritarian leaders from the past.

“I and my family and many of yours know the insidious way authoritarianism destroys democracy, decency and humanity,” Sanders said. “As long as I am here, I will work with progressives, with moderates and, yes, with conservatives to preserve this nation from a threat that so many of our heroes fought and died to defeat.”

And in a final appeal to voters, Sanders asked Americans to “come together” to elect Biden – then considered the alternative.

“The price of failure,” he said, “is just too great.”


12:31 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones: “Even our deepest divisions can be overcome”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones.
Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones. Source: Pool

Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones talked about overcoming deep divisions within the country, and argued that Joe Biden was the right presidential candidate to unite America. 

“Growing up in the South meant growing up in the midst of stark divisions,” Jones said. “But it was here in Alabama where Rosa Parks helped ignite a movement by refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Where Freedom Riders of different races came together in pursuit of equality. And it was here in Alabama where John Lewis marched across a bridge towards freedom.”

“From a young age, I knew the hope that comes from seeing good people work to heal our divisions. It’s what led me to become the United States attorney, where I convicted two Klansmen who murdered four young Black girls in a 1963 Birmingham church bombing and delivered long overdue justice,” Jones said. He stood in front of an exhibit dedicated to the girls’ memory as he gave his remarks. 

“Alabama has shown me that even our deepest divisions can be overcome, because each of us want the same thing: To be treated fairly and given the same opportunities, and the freedom to live with dignity and respect,” the senator said. 

“Now, some politicians try to pit us against each other. But I believe Americas have more in common than what divides us. And in November we have a chance to let a president who believes that too,” Jones said. 

Jones said he has known Biden for 40 years and met the former vice president when he was a law student. 

He said, “The Joe I know is exactly the leader our country needs right now. He can bring people together to find common ground while standing up for what he believes is right. After years of bitter partisanship, he can unite the country and get things done for working families and everyone looking for a better future.” 


10:33 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Cortez Masto blasts Trump's attacks on mail-in voting

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Nevada Sen. Catherine Marie Cortez Masto
Nevada Sen. Catherine Marie Cortez Masto Source: Pool

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto lambasted President Donald Trump's efforts to undermine by-mail voting -- accusing Trump of hypocrisy over how he casts his own ballot in Florida.

"Even Donald Trump has requested an absentee ballot twice this year," she said.

Trump has targeted Nevada over the state's efforts to mail ballots to registered voters this year, as states adjust their election procedures amid the pandemic. Democrats in Congress have sought to increase funding for the US Postal Service, which has warned states it might not be able to process mail-in ballots in time in November.

"He is putting the lives of Nevada’s seniors at risk by trying to defund the post office. Here’s what that means: they won’t be able to get their prescriptions, because he wants to win an election," Cortez Masto said. "Mr. President: Nevada is not intimidated by you. America is not intimidated by you."
10:43 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Kasich and other Republicans make the case for backing Biden

From CNN's Dan Merica

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Source: Pool

Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and a trio of other former top Republicans made the case for members of their party breaking with Donald Trump and backing Joe Biden on Monday, arguing that the President has been a “disappointing” and “disturbing” failure.

Kasich headlined the section of the Democratic convention focused on convincing Republicans turned off by Trump to vote -- even reluctantly -- for a candidate that they may not wholeheartedly support.

“I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” said Kasich, who ran for president as a Republican in 2016. “That’s why I’ve chosen to appear at this convention. In normal times, something like this would probably never happen, but these are not normal times.”

Kasich said he was “proud” of his Republican heritage, but that Trump’s first term “belies those principles.”

“I’m sure there are Republicans and Independents who couldn’t imagine crossing over to support a Democrat,” Kasich said. “They fear Joe may turn sharp left and leave them behind. I don’t believe that because I know the measure of the man. It’s reasonable, faithful, respectful, and, you know, no one pushes Joe around."

Three Republican women -- Meg Whitman, who ran for governor of California as a Republican in 2010 but backed Hillary Clinton in 2016; Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman from New York; and Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican governor of New Jersey and EPA chief under George W. Bush -- joined Kasich in backing Biden.

“For me, the choice is simple. I’m with Joe,” said Meg Whitman.

Molinari said she had “known Donald Trump for most of my political career. So disappointing, and lately so disturbing.”

And Christine Todd Whitman encapsulated the segment with an honest question.

“What am I doing here,” she asked, adding later, “This isn’t about a Republican or Democrat. This is about a person.”


10:21 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Whitmer: Obama and Biden "didn't waste time blaming anyone else or shirking their responsibility"

From CNN's Eric Bradner

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Source: Pool

In a speech from a United Auto Workers union hall, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer touted Joe Biden's role in the passage of the automotive industry bailout in 2009, as former President Barack Obama's administration navigated the Great Recession.

Obama and Biden, Whitmer said, "didn't waste time blaming anyone else or shirking their responsibility. They got to work" — a line intended to contrast Biden with the health and economic crises facing President Donald Trump now.

The swing-state governor and co-chair of Biden's campaign sought to connect those early Obama actions to the response to the coronavirus pandemic. She said factories saved by the auto bailout are now manufacturing protective equipment.

They "saved the autoworkers' livelihood," she said. "Then these workers did their part to save American lives. That's the story of this great nation: Action begets action. Progress begets progress. And when we work together, we can accomplish anything."
12:18 a.m. ET, August 18, 2020

Woman who lost father to Covid-19 speaks at DNC: "His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump"

Kristin Urquiza poses with a photo of her father who died of Covid-19.
Kristin Urquiza poses with a photo of her father who died of Covid-19. Democratic National Committee

Kristin Urquiza gained national attention last month after she wrote an obituary decrying politicians for a "lack of leadership" following her father's death as a result of Covid-19.  

Tonight, she shared the story of her father, Mark Urquiza, during a speech delivered before the Democratic National Convention. She also sent a poignant message to President Donald Trump.

"He had faith in Donald Trump. He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that coronavirus was under control and going to disappear; that it was okay to end social distancing rules before it was safe; and that if you had no underlying health conditions, you’d probably be fine," she said.

Urquiza explained that in late May, after the stay-at-home order was lifted in Arizona, her father went to a karaoke bar with his friends, and a few weeks later, was put on a ventilator. And after "five agonizing days," Urquiza said her father died alone in the ICU with "a nurse holding his hand."

"My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life," she continued.

Urquiza slammed President Trump's coronavirus response.

"The coronavirus has made it clear that there are two Americas: the America that Donald Trump lives in and the America that my father died in. Enough is enough. Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse," Urquiza said.

"We need a leader who has a national, coordinated, data-driven response to stop this pandemic from claiming more lives and to safely reopen the country. We need a leader who will step in on Day One and do his job, to care," she continued.

"One of the last things that my father said to me was that he felt betrayed by the likes of Donald Trump. And so, when I cast my vote for Joe Biden, I will do it for my dad," Urquiza said.


10:10 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser: “While we were protesting, Donald Trump was plotting”

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

Muriel Bowser, Mayor of District of Columbia.
Muriel Bowser, Mayor of District of Columbia. Source: Pool

Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser took aim at President Donald Trump on Monday, saying Trump was “plotting” while many Americans were protesting systemic racism and police brutality in America after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.

Speaking in front of the massive yellow letters that spell out “Black Lives Matter” in Washington, DC, Bowser lambasted Trump for forcibly removing peaceful protesters in front of the White House so he could pose for a photo op in front of a church with a Bible in his hand. 

“While we were protesting, Donald Trump was plotting. He stood in front of one of our most treasured houses of worship and held a Bible for a photo op. He sent troops in camouflage into our streets, he sent tear gas into the air and federal helicopters too,” the mayor said. 

“I knew if he did this to DC, he would do it to your city or your town. And that’s when I said enough. I said enough for every Black and Brown American who has experienced injustice. Enough for every American who believes in justice,” Bowser said. 

Bowser said she wanted her 2-year-old daughter to grow up in an America “where she's not scared to walk to the store. An America where she's safe behind the doors of her own home. An America where the President doesn't fan the flames of racism and looks out for all of us.”

“So I created Black Lives Matter Plaza, right behind me, as a place where we could come together to say enough,” Bowser said. 

“And by coming together this November to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, we will say next. Because we can't just paint those words, we can't just say those words, we have to live those words, we have to undo the laws and systems that have codified racism for far too long. But we have to do something too. Each and every one of us, challenge our own biases. If we see something, do something. Together we can turn this reckoning into a reimagining of a nation where we the people means all the people," Bowser said.

Bowser introduced members of George Floyd’s family as the next speakers at the convention. 

10:13 p.m. ET, August 17, 2020

Eric Garner's mom calls on Biden to fight against police brutality if elected president

From CNN's Leinz Vales

Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner.
Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner. Source: Pool

Gwen Carr, mother of the late Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold by a New York police officer in 2014, is calling on former Vice President Joe Biden to continue the fight against police brutality if he wins the presidency.

"When my son was murdered, there was a big uprising, but then it settled down," Carr said at a roundtable on criminal justice reform. "We can't let things settle down. We have to go to the politicians. We have to hold their feet to the fire. Otherwise, the big uprising is not going to mean a lot."

"I'm just asking that if you become the president, that you make sure that we get national law as well as state and local law, especially when it comes to police brutality. Because that has been an age-old problem," she continued.

The roundtable, hosted by Biden, was held via video conference with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, NAACP CEO and President Derrick Johnson, Houston police chief Art Acevedo and activist Jamira Burley.