Dustin Chambers / Getty Images

This year’s Democratic National Convention promised to be an extravaganza here in Milwaukee. Instead, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the convention was almost entirely virtual with speakers joining in from places around the country.


The 2020 Democratic National Convention was historic in many ways. For the first time, the convention was held virtually due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19. On Wednesday night California Senator Kamala Harris was the first Black and Asian-American woman to accept the nomination for Vice President in a major party.

Lake Effect contributor Art Cyr takes a historical look at what the office of Vice President represents in his essay, “The Democrats and Party Conventions”.

Marti Mikkelson / WUWM

Several hundred people gathered in Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee Thursday on the final night of the mostly virtual Democratic National Convention. Originally, it was going to be held in person in Milwaukee. The protesters rallied and then marched through the streets near the Wisconsin Center, as former Vice President Joe Biden got ready to deliver his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware.

Democrats have to be very happy with what they were able to accomplish this week with their convention.

Their production of the first all-virtual convention went off mostly without a hitch. At times, the last night seemed like whiplash with a serious segment on faith and forgiveness followed by snark from emcee Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for example.

Kamala Harris made history with her formal nomination as the first Black woman and person of Asian descent on a major party's national ticket.

The 55-year-old California senator used much of her first prime-time address as Joe Biden's running mate to tell her own story before turning her fire on President Trump.

Former President Barack Obama, who has mostly stayed on the sidelines as Democrats blasted President Trump's policies over the past 3 1/2 years, took off the gloves and questioned Trump's fitness for the job.

Screenshot / Democratic National Convention

Wednesday marks day three of the Democratic National Convention.

One of the sessions focused on turning out the Spanish speaking vote. It’s a segment of the population that both Democrats and Republicans have deemed essential.

Wisconsin state Rep. and Milwaukee Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa opened the session, laying out why she believes President Trump does not deserve the Latino vote. 

Noel / stock.adobe.com

The Democratic National Convention was expected to have a $200 million economic impact in Milwaukee. In the days following the announcement that Milwaukee beat out its competitors to host the DNC, there was a lot of energy and excitement, especially among those hoping to get a piece of that $200 million pie.

Maayan Silver

After Tuesday night’s roll call at the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden is officially the Democratic candidate for president of the United States. And during the broadcast of the convention itself, Milwaukee and Wisconsin got some time in the virtual spotlight.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called the convention to order at the Wisconsin Center Tuesday night in front of a cobalt blue background and framed by two American and two Wisconsin flags.

“I would love to be welcoming you to my home city right now,” said Barrett.

Stephen Voss & Allison Shelley / NPR

The Democratic National Convention is happening this week and while Milwaukee is still considered the host city, the vast majority of the convention is happening digitally because of concerns about the spread of coronavirus. But the convention isn’t the only part of this election that has been fundamentally different because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everything from campaigning to debating will be different from anything we’ve seen before.

Chuck Quirmbach

Republican Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to speak at noon Wednesday at a metal fabricating firm in Walworth County, Wis. The Tankcraft Corporation in the village of Darien makes fuel tanks and other products.

One of the company owners is board chair of a Wisconsin conservative think tank, and says he promotes liberty and individual rights.

The Trump campaign says Pence is scheduled to discuss “the failure of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to put American workers first.”   

After former first lady Michelle Obama's foreboding address Monday about the consequences of a second term for President Trump, and her urgent appeal that people "vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it," the second night of the Democratic National Convention focused on building the case for how Biden would restore a country struggling in an economic and public health crisis.

Becca Schimmel

The Democratic National Convention was supposed to include 15,000 volunteers until the coronavirus pandemic forced the event to be a virtual convention. A few weeks before the DNC was set to begin in Milwaukee many of the volunteers were told they would no longer be needed. 

Maayan Silver

On Monday, the Democratic National Convention kicked off virtually. Very little is happening at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee’s downtown and most speeches are being broadcast remotely with a mix of live and pre-recorded videos.

To get a little sense of what conventions are generally like, we spoke with state Rep. Lakeshia Myers, one of Joe Biden’s delegates in Wisconsin. Myers was also a delegate for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia in 2016.

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY NETWORK

The Democratic National Convention was expected to draw the world’s attention to Milwaukee. But the city only received a brief mention during the now-virtual event’s 8-10 p.m. primetime programming on Monday.

“We had hoped to have our convention in the City of Festivals, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this year,” Actress Eva Longoria, who served as the emcee of the night, said in her introduction. “Of course, we’re not able to do that.”

Marti Mikkelson

Republican President Donald Trump held a rally in Oshkosh Monday as the Democratic National Convention was beginning in Milwaukee. He made remarks at a hangar at Wittman Regional Airport. About 1,000 people attended the event. They sat close together and only about half wore masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Many wore “Make America Great Again” hats and waved signs that read “Trump 2020.”

Susan Bence

Monday signaled day one of the Democratic National Convention. But we all know it’s not the DNC Milwaukee had planned to host at the Fiserv Forum. The coronavirus put an end to that.

Instead, the convention features virtual speeches and recorded messages from around the country. Major appearances by Wisconsinites are being broadcast from the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee.

But people could be found downtown Monday with strong opinions about the convention and the political process.

Updated at 11:19 a.m. ET

The Democratic National Convention kicked off Monday night in its first completely virtual, made-for-TV incarnation. It was unlike any convention night seen in years past. The most glaring difference: the absence of delegates and an audience.

That presented hurdles that the party tried to vault with a highly produced event that felt, at times, like a political infomercial mixed with a bit of "We Are The World" — and included one standout speech from former first lady Michelle Obama.

George Grantham Bain Collection / Library of Congress

Monday is the first day of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Milwaukee. And while most of the convention is now virtual, it’s a historic start to the 2020 political conventions: It’s the first to be held during a pandemic, and the first time a presumptive party nominee will be an impeached president.

Screenshot / Democratic National Convention

It’s the first day of the Democratic National Convention, originally expected to take place in person in Milwaukee. Now, numerous virtual events will unfold over the next four days.

The first was a virtual breakfast this morning for delegates, hosted by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Delegates and others are making the case for the Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ticket by pointing to President Trump's handling of racial disparities and the coronavirus pandemic. 

Maayan Silver

Downtown Milwaukee restaurant owner Omar Shaikh envisioned overflowing crowds, packed dining rooms and a big payday when the Democratic National Convention came to town.

Shaikh, chairman of the VISIT Milwaukee board, also saw the international attention hosting a convention would bring as a chance for the city along the shores of Lake Michigan to show the world how it's evolved from a Rust Belt manufacturing hub to a thriving, diverse, modern community.

Chuck Quirmbach

Some supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and expected Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are trying to find common ground on the issue of cutting the U.S. military budget.

The two sides held a news conference in downtown Milwaukee on Sunday, near a billboard that says 3% of military spending in this country could end starvation on Earth. 

Laura Valderrama founded Wisconsin for Bernie and is a Sanders delegate at this week's Democratic National Convention.  She says there's a history of bipartisan overspending on the armed forces.

Follow live coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

After losing Wisconsin to Donald Trump in 2016, Democrats vowed not to take the state for granted — taking steps like picking Milwaukee to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

The Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday night and will take place from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET each evening through Thursday, when it will end with the official selection of former Vice President Joe Biden to be the Democratic nominee.

This convention will look and feel different from past years because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Democratic event was supposed to take place in person in Milwaukee before the coronavirus hit, but now it's going to take place all virtually and be a big TV production with speakers and guests located across the country.

DNC Live Coverage: Monday, Aug. 17

Aug 16, 2020

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Monday's speakers include Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former first lady Michelle Obama.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


DNC Live Coverage: Tuesday, Aug. 18

Aug 16, 2020

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Tuesday's speakers include New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former President Bill Clinton.

DNC Live Coverage: Wednesday, Aug. 19

Aug 16, 2020

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Wednesday's speakers include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former President Barack Obama.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


DNC Live Coverage: Thursday, Aug. 20

Aug 16, 2020

Follow live updates and analysis of the Democratic National Convention. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is speaking Thursday night.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


Maayan Silver

The largely scaled-back Democratic National Convention begins in Milwaukee on Monday, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

A reduced in-person version of the gathering will be held at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee, with city and state leaders addressing the convention from the Wisconsin Center each night. Other than that, it will be a mostly virtual event after presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden and other speakers canceled their travel plans.

Lauren Sigfusson

As the Democratic National Convention is about to get underway here in Milwaukee, the deep disappointment of what might have been is inescapable. The prospect of hosting more than 50,000 visitors during the convention and showcasing the city and state to audiences around the world evaporated with the decision to have a nearly all virtual event because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, small as it may be, the convention will still go on with Democrats formally nominating Joe Biden to be the party’s candidate in the November election.

Updated at 7:38 p.m. ET

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his newly named running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California, made their first joint appearance Wednesday following Biden's announcement of the selection a day earlier.