The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday in what is shaping up to be a nominating convention unlike any other.
The first night of the almost all-virtual event featured keynote speaker Michelle Obama, as well as former Democratic presidential contenders Sens. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Govs. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Andrew Cuomo of New York.
Presumptive nominee Joe Biden's pick for vice president, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, is expected to speak Wednesday night along with former President Barack Obama.
Jill Biden, Bill and Hillary Clinton, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and other high-wattage headliners will round out the programming in days leading up to Biden's acceptance speech on Thursday.
NBC News will air a special report from 10 to 11 p.m. ET each night, and MSNBC will have convention coverage from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., with special coverage beginning at 9 p.m. NBC News Now will livestream the convention each day, with special coverage starting at 8 p.m. And follow us here on NBCNews.com for breaking news, analysis and fact checks.
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This live coverage has now ended. Continue reading DNC news from August 18, 2020.
Trump keeps joking about not leaving office
Trump made multiple comments about staying in the White House beyond just two terms during campaign visits to Minnesota and Wisconsin Monday.
"But if I don’t win [Minnesota] this time I'm never coming back. Never. Not for term three, four, five or six," Trump said at a stop in Mankato, Minnesota.
Later, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Trump said "we are going to win four more years. And then after that we'll go for another four years, because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years."
The Constitution limits the president to two terms.
Democrats and other government watchdogs have warned that Trump could be unwilling to accept the November election results if he loses, throwing a bedrock of American democracy — peaceful transition of power — into peril.
"The only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged," Trump said during his stop in Wisconsin. "Remember that."
Ex-Bloomberg staffers ask DNC to remove Bloomberg from convention lineup
Six staffers who worked for billionaire Mike Bloomberg's short-lived 2020 presidential campaign wrote an open letter on Monday asking Democrats to remove their former boss from the convention speaking lineup.
"We are Democrats who worked as field staffers for Mike Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign across the country and were wrongfully terminated in March 2020 along with 2,000 other field staffers, when Bloomberg broke his promise to employ us through the November 2020 general election," the letter, which was addressed to Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
"We write to ask you and the DNC to remove Mike Bloomberg from the slate of speakers at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday night," they added.
The DNC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from NBC News. The letter was signed by Alexis Sklair, Sterling Rettke, Nathaniel Brown, Brian Giles, Jocelyn Reynolds and Caryn Austen.
After Bloomberg ended his failed presidential bid in March, he terminated his campaign staff. The letter's authors then filed a class action lawsuit against the Bloomberg campaign alleging that it broke New York state law by not following through on a pledge to keep staffers employed through the election this fall.
"The impact of Bloomberg’s broken promises has been devastating," the former aides wrote. "Many staffers have faced severe financial struggles."
"We have never been given an explanation about why Mike Bloomberg broke his promises to over 2,000 staffers he wrongfully terminated," they added.
A Bloomberg spokesman called the letter a "stunt" and "distraction" from Donald Trump. Instead of keeping his campaign intact through the election, Bloomberg transferred $18 million in resources to the DNC.
"Like every campaign that ends, people were let go," the spokesman said in a statement. "Unlike other campaigns however, Mike Bloomberg gave his staff health insurance through November as well as severance."
Trump says he will deliver RNC speech live from White House
President Donald Trump announced Monday that he will deliver his Republican National Convention speech live from the White House next Thursday, ending weeks of speculation after he called off plans to hold his address in Jacksonville, Florida.
Democrats are "making speeches that are taped. Who wants to listen to Michelle Obama do a taped speech?" Trump said, speaking at a scaled-down campaign rally in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Monday afternoon.
"But we’re doing a real speech on Thursday, next Thursday, so you’ll be listening. Doing it live from the White House," Trump said.
Former government officials and watchdogs have warned that Trump will violate ethics norms by holding a political speech at the White House. Administration officials involved with the event could also be in jeopardy of violating the Hatch Act, experts say.
Michelle Obama speech will stress Biden's empathy
When Michelle Obama headlines the Democratic convention Monday night, she will stress how Biden's character, empathy and faith has made him the necessary leader for the moment as Americans look for honest guidance amid a trio of crises.
In a clip of her speech released earlier Monday, the former first lady points to the losses Biden has overcome as proof he can relate to those suffering from the broken economy and the coronavirus pandemic.
"His life is a testament to getting back up and he’s going to channel that same grit and passion to pick us all up. To help us heal and guide us forward," she says.
The brief clip also serves as the first look at what Americans will see during the virtual convention, which kicks off tonight. Obama, like so many people speaking to a camera during the pandemic, sits casually on a chair in front of a bookshelf.
Obama is also expected to revive her famous line from the Democrats' 2016 convention— "When they go low, we go high"— redefining what exactly it means to take the higher road when confronted by ideologies Democrats do not agree with.
"Going high does not mean putting on a smile and saying nice things when confronted by viciousness and cruelty. Going high means taking the harder path. It means scraping and clawing our way to that mountain top," she is expected to say. "Going high means standing fierce against hatred while remembering that we are one nation under God, and if we want to survive, we’ve got to find a way to live together and work together across our differences."
The former first lady remains one of the nation’s most popular political figures, but one who has used her political influence sparingly. She said in her recently-launched podcast that she has been feeling "some form of low-grade depression” amid the quarantine, racial strife following the death of George Floyd and “just seeing this administration.”
What to expect from Bernie Sanders' DNC speech
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will deliver a forceful eight-minute address at the convention Monday night, focusing on the importance of defeating a president whom he calls the most dangerous in U.S. history, his aides tell NBC News.
"This election is the most important in the modern history of this country," Sanders will say, according to planned remarks. "In response to the unprecedented set of crises we face, we need an unprecedented response — a movement, like never before, of people who are prepared to stand up and fight for democracy and decency — and against greed, oligarchy and authoritarianism."
He is also expected to say: "My friends, I say to you, and to everyone who supported other candidates in this primary and to those who may have voted for Donald Trump in the last election. The future of our democracy is at stake. The future of our economy is at stake. The future of our planet is at stake. We must come together, defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice president. My friends, the price of failure is just too great to imagine."
Sanders’ supporters got a hint of his message in a fundraising email sent earlier Monday.
"In this unprecedented moment in American history, we have two major tasks in front of us," the email said. "First, we must do everything possible to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden as our next president. Second, the day after Biden is elected we must mobilize grassroots America to make certain that Biden, a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate pass the most progressive agenda since FDR and the 1930s. We must create a government that works for all, not just the 1% and powerful special interests."
Latinos downgrade Trump on pandemic
A growing share of Latinos are giving Trump poor marks for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while their support of Biden ratchets up.
That’s some of the findings of a Latino Decisions poll released on the opening day of the Democrats' virtual convention.
The poll shows 70 percent of Latinos disapprove of how Trump is dealing with the spread of COVID-19 and 66 percent of registered Latino voters say they are backing Biden.
Gary Segura, a principal at Latino Decisions, a Democratic polling firm, says the response to COVID-19 is the “gorilla at the table” and that Latinos view Trump’s response to the pandemic as the cause of the crisis.
Trump kicks off his DNC counterprogramming
President Donald Trump returned to the campaign trail on Monday for the first time in weeks, holding a rally with hundreds of supporters at an airport in Mankato, Minnesota.
"I almost won last time,” Trump said of Minnesota. “One more speech, I would have won, it was so close. But if I don’t win this time I'm never coming back. Never. Not for term three, four, five or six."
Trump launched his usual attacks at Democrats, criticizing Biden and Harris hours before the DNC is slated to start. Trump also went after Hillary Clinton, his 2016 opponent, calling her "Crooked Hillary" as the crowd cheered.
The president will continue campaigning Monday afternoon in Wisconsin.
Ex-Trump administration official endorses Biden, says serving Trump was 'terrifying'
A former Trump administration official endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president on Monday, saying what he witnessed in serving under Trump for two years was "terrifying."
In a testimonial released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump, Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security, said the president "wasn't interested" in cybersecurity and terrorism issues and sought to "exploit" Homeland Security.
Taylor also alleged that Trump once directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency to "stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down from a wildfire because he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn't support him and that politically, it wasn't a base for him."
When pushed to take actions Taylor described as "impossible" or "illegal," the former administration official said Trump "didn't want us to tell him it was illegal" because Trump said he had "magical authorities."
Taylor ultimately said he had to support Biden despite their political differences because the former VP will "protect the country" unlike Trump.
White House spokesman Judd Deere responded to Taylor, calling him "another creature of the D.C. Swamp who never understood the importance of the President’s agenda or why the American people elected him and clearly just wants to cash-in."
Taylor's testimonial came alongside a Washington Post op-ed he authored on his endorsement and tenure in the Trump administration. During the first night of the Democratic National Convention on Monday, Republicans like former Govs. John Kasich of like Ohio and Christine Todd Whitman of New Jersey, as well as former Rep. Susan Molinari, R-N.Y., will speak on Biden's behalf.
Sanders delegates still not sold on Biden-Harris ticket, survey says
As Bernie Sanders prepares to address the Democratic National Convention tonight, a new survey of hundreds of his delegates shows many of them are still not sold on the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket.
The survey, conducted by the Bernie Delegates Network, a coalition of leftwing groups, found one third of responding delegates said they “strongly disapprove” of the ticket, while 19 percent “somewhat disapprove,” 24 percent are “ambivalent,” 17 percent “somewhat approve” and only 7 percent “strongly approve.”
The group said 510 Sanders delegates responded to their survey, which is a little less than half of the former Democratic contender's 1,119 total delegates, so it’s possible those who chose to respond to the survey represent an especially hardcore set of Sanders supporters and not the views his delegates overall, let alone all Sanders supporters.
Four years ago, at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Sanders delegates booed their own candidate for urging them to vote for Hillary Clinton, and hundreds walked out in protest. While the Sanders wing of the party seems more integrated with the party and committed to defeating President Donald Trump this year, activists say the survey indicates Biden and Harris still have work to do.
“This survey shows that the Biden-Harris team needs to go further to unify the party in order to crush Trump in November,” said Jeff Cohen, a Sanders delegate from New York and a co-founder of RootsAction.org, one of the groups behind the Bernie Delegates Network. “Bernie delegates are some of the most dedicated activists and respected Democrats in their communities, and hundreds of them are influential grassroots leaders in battleground states.”
Former GOP House Speaker John Boehner won't be endorsing Biden, spox informs
Former GOP Speaker of the House John Boehner won't be backing Joe Biden, his spokesperson said, dousing speculation that an endorsement could be afoot.
"I think he’d rather set himself on fire than get involved in the election," the spokesperson said.
Boehner's spox made clear the former Ohio politician was not speaking at the convention after a growing slate of prominent Republicans have announced their support for Biden and are set to take the virtual stage Monday evening.
Since leaving Congress, Boehner has worked for tobacco and cannabis companies.