What can you expect from the virtual Democratic National Convention?

The Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday night — virtually — amid a mix of political curiosity and cautious expectations from the party faithful.

The convention was originally set to take place in Milwaukee; a nod to the need to shore up the nominee’s efforts in the Midwest. Wisconsin was one of the key states where Donald Trump edged Hillary Clinton, helping to get him to the White House.

Instead, the convention will take place remotely, in live and recorded videos from across the country.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will officially become the Democratic Party’s nominee on Thursday, will speak from the Chase Center in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

A full slate of speakers is on tap in the three days before Biden is formally nominated, but Democratic veterans acknowledge it will be very different from the huge gatherings they’re used to attending every four years.

“I’m not sure what to expect,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. “I don’t know how you generate the kind of enthusiasm on a Zoom kind of political convention for either side.”

Still, over the next two weeks, the two political parties will get to spotlight their candidates and make direct appeals to voters. The Republican National Convention, which will also be virtual, takes place Aug. 24-28.

Warner said he wants Democrats to go beyond the challenges of dealing with President Trump and provide a “real positive vision of how a Biden administration would be different.” The Democratic lawmaker said he believes that begins with showing empathy for Americans and “healing.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said he believes Biden will have a chance to showcase how he would take a much different approach to the pandemic than President Trump has.

“I think the American people are looking for leadership during uncertain times,” Van Hollen said. “He determined early on that it would put people in danger if you had everybody gather in one big convention in Milwaukee.”

Van Hollen contrasts that with President Trump, who he accuses of trying to “politicize the pandemic.”

The president initially sought to go ahead with an in-person convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, then planned to move it to Jacksonville, Florida, after a disagreement with officials in Charlotte over possible restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Ultimately, the president decided to give his GOP acceptance speech from the White House.

“While of course the format of this convention of course will be very different, what Joe Biden has done is shown that he’s serious about the health issues, serious about getting the economy on track,” Van Hollen said, adding that he feels the president has “bungled” the handling of the pandemic.

President Trump has been sharply critical of Biden and his running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., suggesting they would take Democrats more to the left and be terrible for the economy.

As for the Democratic convention, it will take place from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday this week, with featured speakers Monday evening including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT; former first lady Michelle Obama; and a Republican — former Ohio congressman and governor John Kasich.

WTOP has compiled a full schedule of events at the convention.

In addition to prominent Democrats, the convention plans to serve up some virtual entertainment.

Among the artists scheduled to perform over the next several days are Common, Billie Eilish, John Legend and Stephen Stills.

Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller has worked at WTOP since 1996, as a producer, editor, reporter and Senior News Director. After working "behind the scenes," coordinating coverage and reporter coverage for years, Mitchell moved back to his first love -- reporting. He is now WTOP's Capitol Hill reporter.

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