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.
Vulnerable Democratic senator makes plea for unity
Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama used his convention spot Monday to highlight the advancement of civil rights in the South and promote Biden as the candidate who believes "Americans have more in common than what divides us."
"Alabama has shown me that even our deepest divisions can be overcome because each of us wants the same thing: to be treated fairly and given the same opportunities, and the freedom to live with dignity and respect," Jones said. "Now, some politicians try to pit us against each other, but I believe that Americans have more in common than what divides us. And in November we have a chance to elect a president who believes that, too."
"I’ve known Joe for more than 40 years. I met him as a wide-eyed law student, and he’s been my friend and champion ever since," Jones added. "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."
Jones' speech hit on the major theme of Monday night — national unity. He is one of the most endangered Democratic senators up for re-election this year after having won a tight special election for former Sen. Jeff Sessions' seat in 2017. Biden campaigned for Jones in that race.
Kasich, a Republican, addresses DNC: 'These are not normal times'
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, gave one of the only speeches Monday night that wasn't trying to appeal directly to Democratic voters.
Standing at a literal crossroads to talk about the future of America, Kasich's speech seemed designed to engage disaffected Republicans or doubtful Independents to widen the coalition that could get Biden into the White House and make Trump a one-term president.
"I’m a lifelong Republican, but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country," he said. "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."
He did not mention the president by name, but said the administration has led the country down a path of "division, dysfunction, irresponsibility, and growing vitriol,” which is why he is backing Biden, who he called “a good man, a man of faith, a unifier.”
Earlier Monday, Trump addressed Kasich's presence at the DNC.
"He was a loser as a Republican and he’ll be a loser as a Democrat," Trump said. "Major loser as a Republican. I guess you can quote me on that. John was a loser as a Republican. Never even came close. And as a Democrat he’ll be an even greater loser."
Republican women throw support behind Biden
Three prominent female Republicans threw their support behind Biden on Monday in an unprecedented series of speeches at the convention.
Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, Meg Whitman, a businesswoman, and former New York Rep. Susan Molinari — all Republicans — did just that on Monday evening.
The three women spoke about how despite their lifelong affiliation with the Republican Party, they were unable to support Trump.
“This isn't about a Republican or Democrat. It's about a person: a person decent enough, stable enough, strong enough to get our economy back on track; a person who can work with everyone, Democrats and Republicans, to get things done. Donald Trump isn't that person; Joe Biden is,” said Todd Whitman.
Whitman, the CEO, said that as an executive she felt Trump “has no clue how to run a business, let alone an economy.” Biden, she said, “has a plan” and “for me, the choice is simple: I'm with Joe.”
During her time as a New York politician, Molinari said she had gotten to know Trump and described him as “so disappointing, and lately so disturbing.”
"Now I've also gotten to know and work with Joe Biden on issues related to women that are so important to all of us," Molinari said. "He's a really good man, and he's exactly what this nation needs at this time."
'That woman from Michigan' takes on Trump, praises Biden
"I'm Governor Gretchen Whitmer, or as Donald Trump calls me, that woman from Michigan."
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday took on Trump's handling of coronavirus, comparing the pandemic to the auto industry crisis that ravaged her home state more than a decade ago.
Whitmer, speaking at a United Auto Workers union hall in Lansing, Michigan, credited Biden and former President Barack Obama with having "saved" jobs in the auto industry. Many of those same autoworkers, she said, were making protective equipment for health care workers in recent months.
"Democracy is a team sport," she said. "Especially now. It’s crucial that we rally together to fight this virus and build our economy back better."
Whitmer was critical of the Trump administration, saying Trump "fights his fellow Americans rather than fight the virus that’s killing us and our economy."
"Just imagine if we had a national strategy: So everyone who needs a test — gets one for free. So everyone has access to a safe vaccine. So our kids and educators have the resources they need to safely get back to school," Whitmer said. "With Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House, we will. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will lead by example. Science, not politics or ego, will drive their decisions."
Fact check: Cuomo’s claims about Trump’s handling of the pandemic
The New York governor said the Trump administration “tried to deny the virus, then tried to ignore it, and then tried to politicize it.”
This is true; the president downplayed the threat of the virus and argued for weeks that it would simply disappear.
He also made numerous political statements. For example, he claimed that hydroxychloroquine would be an effective treatment before studies had been completed. When medical reviews concluded it wasn’t effective, he claimed the pushback was political. He spread misinformation online, including the false claim that masks don’t work. He also claimed in July that Democratic governors “think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed.”
Kasich and AOC spar over the soul of the Democratic Party
Former Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, a Republican, exposed the frays in the Democrat’s big-tent approach on Monday, criticizing New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a progressive Democrat, as "extreme."
"People on the extreme, whether they're on the left or on the right, they get outsized publicity that tends to define their party," Kasich said in an interview with BuzzFeed News. "You know, I listen to people all the time make these statements, and because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn't mean she represents the Democratic Party."
Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, writing: "It’s great that Kasich has woken up & realized the importance of supporting a Biden-Harris ticket. I hope he gets through to GOP voters. Yet also, something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.”
Kasich is expected to address the DNC on Monday night and Ocasio-Cortez is slated to speak Tuesday. Some voters have expressed frustration that Ocasio-Cortez has been given only 60-seconds for her address, less time than Kasich was given.
Woman whose father died of COVID: 'His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump'
Kristin Urquiza, whose father died in Arizona in June from COVID-19, delivered a blistering rebuke of Trump's handling of the pandemic.
Urquiza told the story of her father, Mark Anthony Urquiza, who she said trusted Trump and other Republican leaders when they said the coronavirus was under control and would disappear.
Urquiza said her dad went to a karaoke bar with friends once Arizona's stay-at-home order was lifted in May and a few weeks later he was put on a ventilator. He died alone in the ICU "with a nurse holding his hand."
"My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life," Urquiza said. "Donald Trump may not have caused the coronavirus, but his dishonesty and his irresponsible actions made it so much worse."
"I was gripped not only by grief, but by anger and rage, that his life didn't seem to matter to the people in charge," Urquiza told NBC News earlier this year. "They have blood on their hands. People are dying."
Cuomo says coronavirus 'a metaphor' for Trump-led crisis
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a longtime Democratic leader whose national profile was boosted in the pandemic, bashed the Trump administration for its handling of the outbreak in an address to the Democratic convention Monday and said Biden will be able to "restore the soul of America."
"Our nation is in crisis, and in many ways, COVID is just a metaphor," Cuomo said. "A virus attacks when the body is weak and when it cannot defend itself. Over these past few years, America’s body politic has been weakened."
Cuomo came under the spotlight for his role in shepherding New York through the pandemic with daily press briefings that often garnered national attention. During his speech Monday, Cuomo once again used slides to make his point.
"Only a strong body can fight off the virus, and America’s divisions weakened it," Cuomo said. "Donald Trump didn’t create the initial division. The division created Trump; he only made it worse."
Cuomo added the nation needs "a leader as good as our people."
"Joe Biden can restore the soul of America," he said. "And that’s exactly what our country needs today."