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Democratic convention speakers span spectrum

ATLANTA (AP) — Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden insists he can unify a fractured nation, and he’ll test his theory with an unusual nominating convention intended to span the spectrum of U.S. politics.

The Democratic National Convention, a virtual production since the COVID-19 pandemic led party officials to cancel all in-person plans in Milwaukee, will feature presenters from progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Republican John Kasich, a former Ohio governor who sought the GOP presidential nomination four years ago.

A detailed but incomplete list of speakers released Tuesday also features many of Biden’s 2020 primary rivals, congressional leaders close to the former vice president and several everyday Americans, including some who supported President Donald Trump in 2016.

Programming is set to be broadcast and streamed online each night, Aug. 17-20, from 9 to 11 p.m. EDT.

Attempts at unity and diversity — racial and ethnic, gender and ideological — are apparent in each night’s headliners.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who has twice finished as runner-up for the nomination, will appear Monday, the same night as Kasich. Former first lady Michelle Obama and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer also will be featured that night.

Former President Bill Clinton, Ocasio-Cortez and Jill Biden, the nominee’s wife, lead the Tuesday slate, which also includes former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, who Trump fired early in his administration.

Prominent Democratic women dominate the lineup Wednesday, when vice presidential nominee Caifornia Sen. Kamala Harris will speak, along with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. The list also includes 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton, the first woman to lead a major party ticket in the United States; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the first woman to hold the gavel on Capitol Hill; and Gabrielle Giffords, the former congresswoman and high-profile advocate for tighter gun restrictions.

Former President Barack Obama, who remains perhaps the party’s most popular figure, also drew a Wednesday time slot.

As with a normal convention, Biden’s acceptance speech will conclude the proceedings Thursday night. The warm-up for Biden includes Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. Former 2020 presidential hopefuls Pete Buttigieg and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker are also on Thursday’s agenda.

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