WHAT TO WATCH: Democrats open a new kind of convention

ATLANTA (AP) — The Democratic Party will convene, sort of, amid a pandemic that has upended the usual pomp-and-circumstance of presidential nominating conventions.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez will be in Milwaukee, which he’d chosen as the 2020 convention host city. But presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, won’t be.

Nor will the 57 state, territorial and international delegations, party activists and media hordes that would have filled a downtown arena to see Biden and Harris nominated to take on President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in November.

Instead, Democrats will put on essentially an all-virtual convention, broadcasting two hours of prime-time programming starting at 9 p.m. EST, much of it pre-taped, Monday through Thursday. No crowds. No hullabaloo. And no balloons.

What to watch on opening night Monday:

THE MESSAGE: The theme is deliberately vague, “We the People,” and the lineup doesn’t fit neatly into any box. Viewers will hear from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who finished second to Biden in the nominating contest, and Republican John Kasich, the former Ohio governor and 2016 primary rival to Trump.

To underscore the gap: That’s a self-identified democratic socialist who wants a “political revolution” and a conservative Republican who was once a budget hawk in Congress and fought labor unions in the Ohio statehouse. And both will pitch for Biden.

That reflects a key reality of Biden’s candidacy: It’s always been more of a moral and competency case against Trump than about the particulars of Democrats’ policy fights. Hence his campaign pledges to “unify the country” and “restore the soul of the nation.” Yet Biden has spent the last several months trying to shore up relationships with the party’s left flank, which remains skeptical about him. He has a lengthy policy slate he touts as the most progressive of any modern Democratic nominee.

HOW TO WATCH: The convention will air from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time. The DNC will provide the official livestream online and on its social media channels. CNN, C-SPAN, MSNBC and PBS will air the full two hours. ABC, CBS, Fox News Channel and NBC will air the final hour, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. The event also will be available via Twitch, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

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