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Biden campaign will host virtual watch parties to engage supporters as Democratic National Convention goes almost entirely virtual

Updated 11:26 AM ET, Fri August 14, 2020

(CNN) - Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's presidential campaign is forging a new path, gathering a nationwide audience of supporters over Zoom to make up for a Democratic National Convention devoid of its usual live audience of thousands due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The campaign announced Friday that virtual watch parties will take place in all 50 states throughout next week's convention, with elected officials like Pete Buttigieg and celebrities like Alyssa Milano acting as hosts, according to a news release shared first with CNN.

The watch parties offer a glimpse into how the campaign is making do with the challenges of hosting a virtual convention -- a fanfare celebration that typically sees tens of thousands of supporters gathering together in person -- almost entirely in the virtual realm due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

For the evenings that presumptive Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and Biden deliver their speeches -- Wednesday and Thursday, respectively -- the campaign has recruited an array of high-profile guests to host watch parties in different states across the nation. Biden's former Democratic rivals from the presidential primary, including Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Andrew Yang, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Buttigieg, are among the hosts.

Other high-profile hosts include New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, LA Mayor and Biden campaign co-chair Eric Garcetti, actors Connie Britton, Milano and BD Wong, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez and Biden's sister, Valerie Biden Owens.

"Americans across the country are fired up to vote for the Biden-Harris ticket in November and restore the soul of our nation," Biden for President National Organizing Director Kurt Bagley said in a statement. "There are 81 days until Election Day and we are ready to harness the energy on the ground to ensure that Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Democrats up and down the ticket are elected on November 3rd."

Joe Biden will not accept the Democratic presidential nomination in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the original site of the convention, because of concerns caused by the pandemic. Instead, he and Harris will deliver their convention speeches from the Chase Center in Biden's hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, spokesman Michael Gwin confirmed to CNN.

The DNC announced Friday that several artists that will perform during the convention, including Leon Bridges, The Chicks, Common, Billie Eilish, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, Billy Porter, Maggie Rogers, Prince Royce and Stephen Stills. The performances will range from renditions of the national anthem, to American classics, to new songs, according to a news release from the convention. Additionally, 57 youth choir members representing each of the 57 states and territories will perform the National Anthem Monday evening.

The convention is slated to take place from August 17-20, after Democrats pushed their convention back by a month because of the coronavirus pandemic. Convention programming will air for two hours each night from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

In addition to Biden and Harris, the convention's list of speakers, which was significantly pared down after it was decided the event could no longer be held in person, include former President Barack Obama, former Gov. John Kasich, who ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Biden's main opponent in the final stretch of the Democratic primary, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden.


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