The Note: 'Knowing Joe' serves as Democratic convention through-line

Tuesday will bring more speakers who know former Vice President Joe Biden well.

August 18, 2020, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

If Democrats go through their convention with an enthusiasm problem, they may make up for it with enthusiastic testimonials.

"I know Joe is a good man," said former Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

"I know Joe," said former first lady Michelle Obama.

"We know Joe," said House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.

PHOTO: Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 17, 2020.
Former first lady Michelle Obama speaks during the first night of the Democratic National Convention, Aug. 17, 2020.
Democratic National Convention via AP

Tuesday will bring more speakers who know former Vice President Joe Biden well. On the night that the formal roll call will make Biden the presidential nominee, speakers will include Dr. Jill Biden and former President Bill Clinton -- plus 17 "rising star" Democrats in place of a traditional keynote address.

The speakers -- both those who are live, and those who are pre-recorded -- are bringing a certain intimacy to their presentations. Night one was technically solid and perhaps more poignant for the lack of interruptions for applause and demonstrations.

Night two, complete with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's already infamous 60 seconds of speaking of time, offers more potential messaging pitfalls for the Biden campaign. It's also notable how little Sen. Kamala Harris has come up; former first lady Michelle Obama recorded her speech before Harris was selected and didn't mention the history-making elements of her candidacy.

Knowing Biden, of course, is not the same as knowing how to defeat President Donald Trump. That prospect remains more unifying for Democrats than candidate biographies -- and might be harder to message around with the knowledge that Republicans get to respond next week.

ABC News Live will kick off primetime coverage of the Democratic National Convention each day at 7 p.m. ET on the network's steaming news channel and primetime coverage will air from 10-11 p.m. ET each night of the convention on the ABC Television Network.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

In a normal year it's pretty routine: Speak to the crowd, land the applause line, toss red meat, list the wish-list, fire up the base and attack the other side.

But this year is not normal.

The difference the first night of the Democratic convention wasn't just a virtual audience, but a different target audience all together.

Democrats made a clear choice their first night of programming -- to attempt to speak to undecided or unmotivated voters, hoping they were watching.

Sen. Bernie Sanders' spoke to progressives, ticking through a few key policy promises Biden has made that should excite them, but adding, "the future of our democracy is at stake ... the price of failure is just too great to imagine."

PHOTO: Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the all virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, Aug. 17, 2020.
Former Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during the all virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention, Aug. 17, 2020.
Democratic National Convention via Reuters

Former Republicans played a role too, giving permission to others across the spectrum and on the fence for a different reason.

And then, Michelle Obama, one of the few national political faces with wide appeal, capped off the message.

"Four years ago, too many people chose to believe that their votes didn't matter. Maybe they were fed up. Maybe they thought the outcome wouldn't be close. Maybe the barriers felt too steep. ... This is not the time to withhold our votes in protest or play games with candidates who have no chance of winning," she said.

The party faithful, waiting for the team huddle or rallying cry, will have their moments later this week, no doubt, but they were not the focus of night one. Instead, Democrats seemed laser-focused on persuasion.

The TIP with Kendall Karson

What was once an hours-long marker of conventions past will be a trimmed-down, 30-minute, virtual trek to sites across all 57 states and territories.

The roll call -- the formal process for formally nominating Biden -- is set for the second night of the convention and will feature a mix of live and pre-taped components.

PHOTO: People work in the control room for the Democratic National Convention before the start of the convention at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Aug. 17, 2020.
People work in the control room for the Democratic National Convention before the start of the convention at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Aug. 17, 2020.
Morry Gash/Pool via AFP/Getty Images

It's a tradition that allows the party's delegates to brag and highlight what makes their state better than the rest. But it's also one that is the purpose for the gathering.

Every state, one at a time, is called on alphabetically to announce how many delegates will be delivered to each candidate based on the state's primary results. Once Biden reaches the magic number of delegates -- 2,374 -- he will earn the nomination. That moment could come as the roll call reaches his native Pennsylvania, according to an unofficial tally from ABC News, a potentially more poignant, unintentional touch.

THE PLAYLIST

ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Tuesday morning's episode features a conversation with Alabama Sen. Doug Jones after Democratic National Committee kicked off its mostly virtual convention Monday night. Then, Tim Miller from Republicans Voters Against Trump explains why we are seeing more defections from President Donald Trump's party. And, Sony Salzman from the ABC News Medical Unit explains why Americans are more likely to die from COVID-19. http://apple.co/2HPocUL

ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" Podcast. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg joins ABC News Political Director Rick Klein and Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl following the first night of the Democratic National Convention. On Monday's episode, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones said that even if Democrats control the White House and both chambers of Congress in the new year, he thinks Joe Biden -- whom he has known for 40 years -- would first try to "find common ground" rather than push to eliminate the filibuster rule, which effectively makes it so at least 60 senators have to agree on legislation in order for it to pass. https://bit.ly/2w091jE

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TODAY

  • Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg appears on ABC's "Good Morning America."
  • President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump participate in a signing of a proclamation on the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment at 9 a.m. He then travels to Iowa to participate in an Iowa Disaster Recovery Briefing at 11:15 a.m. CT in Cedar Rapids. He then travels to Arizona to receive a border wall construction and operational update at 1:30 p.m. MT in Yuma before making remarks on immigration and border security at 2:15 p.m.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden attends a virtual Biden for President grassroots finance event. He also participates in NowThis' virtual conversation with the Latino Victory Project and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Later, he joins virtual meetings with convention delegations from Pennsylvania and Florida.
  • Polls close in Florida at 7 p.m.
  • Polls close in Wyoming at 7 p.m. MT
  • Polls close in Alaska at 8 p.m. AT
  • Democrats continue their mostly virtual convention in Milwaukee Tuesday under the theme of "Leadership Matters" with primetime speeches from both the party's more established leaders and its younger stars. Tuesday evening's program includes speeches from former President Bill Clinton, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a group of 17 "rising stars" within the party -- including former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb and Texas Rep. Colin Allred.
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    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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