2016 Democratic National Convention

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2016 Democratic National Convention
2016 presidential election
Democratic National Convention 2016 Logo.png
Hillary Oval.png Kaine Oval.png

Presumptive Nominees
Clinton and Kaine
Date(s) July 25–28, 2016
City Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Venue Wells Fargo Center
Chair Marcia Fudge[1]
Keynote speaker Elizabeth Warren ofMassachusetts [2]
Notable speakers Barack Obama
Bill Clinton
Chelsea Clinton
Joe Biden
Michelle Obama
Bernie Sanders
Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of New York
Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine of Virginia
Total delegates 4,765
Votes needed for nomination 2,383 (majority)
2012  ·  2020

Map of United States showing Orlando, Florida

The Wells Fargo Center, the site of the 2016 Democratic National Convention


Sites of the 2016 national presidential nominating conventions. Blue, red, green, and yellow indicate the conventions for the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian parties, respectively.

The 2016 Democratic National Convention is the gathering at whichdelegates of the United States Democratic Party will choose their nominees for President of the United States and Vice President of the United States in the 2016 national election. It began on July 25, 2016, and will conclude on July 28, 2016, at the Wells Fargo Center inPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, with some caucus meetings at thePennsylvania Convention Center,[4] beginning exactly one week after the 2016 Republican National Convention.

There are expected to be 4,769 delegates (worth 4,765 delegate votes) to the Democratic National Convention. A candidate needs a majority of delegate votes to win the presidential nomination, which in this case is a minimum of 2,383 votes.


In 2016, both the Republican and Democratic conventions will be held in late July before the Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, instead of after the Olympics as in 2008 and 2012. One reason why the Republican Party scheduled its convention in July was to help avoid a longer, drawn-out primary battle similar to what happened in 2012 that left the party fractured heading into the general election. The Democrats then followed suit, scheduling their convention the week after the Republicans’ convention, to provide a quicker response.[6]

On July 11, 2016, Twitter and CBS News announced their joint plan to live-stream the convention via Twitter.[7]

Choice of Philadelphia for convention site

Philadelphia was selected by the Democratic National Committee on February 12, 2015, as the host city for the party’s 2016 Convention.[8] The primary venue, where the nominee will be selected, will be the Wells Fargo Center. The Pennsylvania Convention Center will also be used for some events.[9] The last convention held in Philadelphia was the 2000 Republican National Convention. The last time the city hosted the Democratic Convention was in 1948.[10] Philadelphia was selected over finalistsColumbus, New York City, Birmingham, Cleveland, and Phoenix.[11] Edward G. Rendell, the former mayor of Philadelphia and governor of Pennsylvania, played a crucial role in securing Philadelphia as the host city.[9][12]

Host Committee

The 2016 Philadelphia Host Committee, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, was the official and federally designated presidential convention host committee for the convention, charged with the task of raising the necessary funds to hold the convention. The Host Committee is composed of 10 prominent Philadelphia business executives, civic and other community leaders. The Reverend Leah Daughtry is the CEO.[13]


The convention is designated as a National Special Security Event, which means that ultimate authority over law enforcement goes to the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security.[14]

Email leak

A cache of more than 19,000 e-mails were leaked on July 22, 2016. This has caused Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to step down.[15]

Planned demonstrations

By May 19, 2016, five organized groups of Sanders supporters had applied for demonstration permits from the Philadelphia police department.[16][17] A joint rally between the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and the Green Party of the United States was denied a protest permit, but both groups planned to go ahead with their protest regardless.[18][19][20] The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, the Green Party, and other groups obtained permits for their demonstrations on July 7 after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit that resulted in the city lifting its ban on rush-hour protests during the DNC.[21] On July 12, workers at Philadelphia International Airportvoted 461-5 in favor of striking during the DNC in order to seek “better scheduling, clarity on sick pay, a more predictable disciplinary system, and to be able to unionize.”[22] The city of Philadelphia expects 35,000 to 50,000 protesters throughout the convention.[23][24]

Nomination and balloting

Presumed delegate count

Candidate Pledged delegates Presumed Count, including superdelegates
Hillary Clinton by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg

Hillary Clinton

2,205 2,746✓
Bernie Sanders September 2015 cropped.jpg

Bernie Sanders

1,846 1,875
Governor O'Malley Portrait (cropped).jpg

Martin O’Malley

0 1
Available delegates 0 144
Total delegate votes 4,051 4,765

Final delegate count


Drafting process

The Platform Committee is co-chaired by former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin and Connecticut governor Dannel P. Malloy.[25] The four vice chairs are Nellie Gorbea of Rhode Island, the Rev. Cynthia Hale of Georgia, San Francisco mayorEd Lee, and Greg Rosenbaum.[25]

Prior to the meeting of the full Platform Drafting Committee, eight meetings in four regions (Mid-Atlantic, Southwest,Midwest, and Southeast) were held: a forum with testimony in Washington, D.C. on June 8 and 9; a forum with testimony inPhoenix, Arizona, on June 17 and 18; a drafting committee meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 24 and 25; and a platform committee meeting in Orlando, Florida, on July 8 and 9.[26]

The Drafting Committee heard testimony from 114 witnesses across the United States,[27] and an additional “1,000 Democrats submitted written or video testimony weighing in on the platform.”[28] The drafting committee concluded its work on June 25, sending the draft platform to the full platform committee.[27]

The Drafting Committee consists of fifteen members.[29] Under party rules, the chair of the Democratic National Committee had the power to name all fifteen members of the Drafting Committee, which has typically been done in the past in consultation with the White House (if a Democratic president is sitting) and the presumptive nominee.[30] In 2016, however, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz opted “to allocate 75% of the committee’s seats to the presidential campaigns, awarding the slots proportionally according to the current vote tally” in a bid for wider representation of party members.[29] As a result, Clinton appointed six members to the committee, Sanders five, and Wasserman Schultz four.[31]This was the outcome of an agreement between the Bernie Sanders campaign, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and party officials, and was viewed as a victory for Sanders, who obtained some influence on the party platform as result.[30][31]

The drafting committee members, named in May 2016, were as follows:[29]

Hillary Clinton committee appointees:

  1. Paul Booth of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees[30]
  2. Carol Browner, former director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy and formeradministrator of the Environmental Protection Agency[30]
  3. U.S. Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois
  4. Ohio State Representative Alicia Reece[30]
  5. Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former senior State Department official[30]
  6. Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, “longtime Clinton confidante”[30]

Bernie Sanders committee appointees:

  1. U.S. Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, one of the highest-ranked elected officials to endorse Sanders[30]
  2. Bill McKibben, environmentalist[30]
  3. Deborah Parker, Native American activist[30]
  4. Dr. Cornel West, author, racial justice advocate[30]
  5. James Zogby, DNC official, president of the Arab American Institute[30]

Debbie Wasserman Schultz committee appointees:

  1. Former U.S. Representative Howard Berman of California[30]
  2. U.S. Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland (chair of the drafting committee)[30]
  3. U.S. Representative Barbara Lee of California[30]
  4. Bonnie Schaefer, executive[30]

The Clinton Campaign’s Senior Policy Advisor Maya Harris and the Sanders Campaign’s Policy Director Warren Gunnels represented their respective campaigns as official, non-voting members of the Drafting Committee. Andrew Grossman was named Platform Executive Director.[32]

Platform provisions

The full Platform Committee approved the Democratic platform following heated debate in Orlando on July 10, 2016; the platform will be formally approved at the convention itself in Philadelphia.[33]

The platform adopted by the platform committee was described by NBC News and by columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel as the most progressive in party history, largely reflecting the influence of platform-committee members appointed by Bernie Sanders.[34][35] The platform committee-drafted platform was praised by both Hillary Clinton’s campaign[36] and Bernie Sanders’ campaign, with Sanders policy director Warren Gunnells saying his campaign achieved “at least 80 percent” of its goals.[34] Although Sanders could have chosen, under party rules, to force a vote on the convention floor using a “minority report” process, he decided not to do so, with Gunnells telling supporters that the campaign had successfully secured the adoption of many of its platform goals and “that further platform fights would be portrayed in the corporate media as obstructionist and divisive.”[37]

The platform expresses support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and indexing it to inflation, a plank supported by Sanders.[34][35] The adoption of this point was a boost for the Fight for $15 movement.[35] The platform also calls for ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and workers with disabilities, and for twelve weeks of paid family and medical leave.[35]

On health care, the platform committee adopted a provision supporting a public option for the Affordable Care Act and for legislation to allow Americans ages 55 and over to buy into Medicare.[35] The platform committee voted down a more ambitious Medicare for All proposal supported by Sanders.[35] The platform “repeats the Democratic Party pledge to empower Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs” and also calls for “doubling support for community health centers that provide primary health-care services, particularly in rural areas.[35]

The platform expresses support for Wall Street reform, the expansion of Social Security and the abolition of the death penalty, all points supported by Sanders.[34] This marked the first time that a major U.S. party had called for ending capital punishment in its platform.[38]

On financial regulation (Wall Street reform), the platform supports “a 21st-century Glass-Steagall Act to keep banks from gambling with taxpayer-guaranteed deposits,” calls for the breakup of “too big to failfinancial institutions, and supports atax on excessive speculation.[35]

The platform expresses support for criminal justice reform, calls for an end to private prisons, and reforms to boost police accountability to communities.[35] The platform calls for shutting “the revolving door between Wall Street and Washington,” calling for “a ban on golden parachutes for bankers taking government jobs, limits on conflict of interest, and a two-year ban on financial services regulators ‘from lobbying their former colleagues.'”[35]

On taxation, the platform pledges “tax relief” to middle-class families. The platform also calls for the end of overseas tax deferral and the carried interest tax loophole, as well as a crackdown on corporate inversions.[35]

On K-12 education, the party’s platform was revised “in important ways, backing the right of parents to opt their children out of high-stakes standardized tests, qualifying support for charter schools, and opposing using test scores for high-stakes purposes to evaluate teachers and students.”[39] The platform calls for “democratically governed great neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools,” and opposes “for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources.”[39]

On workers’ rights, “the platform endorses expanding and defending the right of workers to organize unions and bargain collectively.”[35] The platform supports the ability of workers to organize via card check and “calls for a ‘model employer’ executive order that would give preference in government procurement to employers who provide their workers with a living wage, benefits and the opportunity to form a union.”[35]

The platform committee approved compromise language on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), calling for increased federal, state and local regulation of the practice but not a wholesale ban, as Sanders had pushed for.[34]

The platform drafting committee twice voted down an amendment, supported by Sanders and advanced by one of his appointees, Rep. Keith Ellison, to commit the party to opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.[34][40] The committee instead backed a measure that said “there are a diversity of views in the party” on the TPP and reaffirmed that Democratic Party’s stance that any trade deal “must protect workers and the environment.”[40]

In a close, 81-80 vote, the platform committee approved language supporting the removal of marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, “providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization” of marijuana.[41]

The platform maintains the Democratic Party’s longstanding support for Israel, with DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultzterming it the “strongest pro-Israel” platform in the party’s history.[42] The platform includes a provision condemning the BDS movement and calling for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that guarantees Israel’s future as a secure and democratic Jewish state with recognized borders and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity.”[42] Proposals for language that would have condemned settlements and called for an end to the Israeli occupationwere rejected in the platform committee.[35]

Convention chair

On July 23, party officials announced that Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz would not preside over or speak at the convention. The announcement came after the leak of 20,000 emails by seven DNC staffers from January 2015 to May 2016, during the Democratic primary season. The emails showed the staffers favoring Clinton and disparaging Sanders. Wasserman Schultz’s removal from convention activities was approved by both the Clinton and Sanders campaigns. In her place, the Rules Committee named Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio as convention chair.[43] Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post described this as “a remarkable snub for a sitting party chair.”[44]

Superdelegate reform

On July 24, the DNC Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly, 158–6, to adopt a superdelegate reform package. The new rules were the result of a compromise between the Clinton and the Sanders campaigns. (Sanders had pressed for the complete elimination of superdelegates.)[45]

Under the reform package, in future Democratic conventions about two-thirds of superdelegates would be bound to the results of state primaries and caucuses. The remaining one third—senators, governors and U.S. representatives—would remain unbound and free to support the candidate of their choice.[45]

Under the reform package, a 21-member unity commission (to be chaired by Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, a Clinton supporter, and vice-chaired by Larry Cohen, a Sanders supporter) is to be appointed “no later than 60 days” after the November 2016 general election. The commission would report by January 1, 2018, and its recommendations would be voted on at the next Democratic National Committee meeting, well before the beginning of the 2020 Democratic primaries.[45] The commission was to consider “a mix of Clinton and Sanders ideas, including expanding ‘eligible voters’ ability to participate in the caucuses in caucus states (a gripe of Clinton’s campaign) and encouraging ‘the involvement in all elections of unaffiliated or new voters who seek to join the Democratic Party through same-day registration and re-registration’ (a Sanders demand).”[45] The commission drew comparisons to the McGovern–Fraser Commission, which established party primary reforms before the 1972 Democratic National Convention.[45]


In a press release on July 15, the Hillary Clinton campaign and Democratic National Convention Committee issued a preliminary list of speakers.[46][47][48]

First Lady Michelle Obama was one of the headlining speakers on the first night

Former President Bill Clinton, husband of Hillary Clinton, will be one of the headlining speakers on the second night

  • Second night (Tuesday, July 26): Theme: “A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families”[47]
    • Donna Brazile, Democratic National Committee Vice Chair of Voter Registration and Participation and future interim chair of the Democratic National Committee (effective at the end of the convention)[55]
    • Former State Senator Jason Carter of Georgia
    • Former President Bill Clinton (headliner)[46][47]
    • The Mothers of the Movement (mothers of children killed by gun violence)[46][47]
  • Third night (Wednesday, July 27): Theme: “Working Together”[47]

President Barack Obama will be one of the headlining speakers on the third night

Chelsea Clinton, will speak immediately before her mother, Hillary Clinton

On July 21, the convention organizers released an alphabetical list of other confirmed speakers (with time slots not yet set), as follows:[56]

General John R. Allenwill speak on the fourth night

Celebrities who are speaking or performing at the convention include the following:[57][58]

Demi Lovato gave a speech and performance on the first night of the convention

Other celebrities who are attending include Alicia Keys and Katy Perry.[57] Unlike in past conventions, sitting Cabinet members will not be speaking at the event; the White House has decided that barring Cabinet officers from addressing the convention will “send a signal about the primacy of the Obama administration’s responsibility to manage the government and serve the American people” and avoid legal or political difficulties.[60]

Notable speakers

Al Franken and Sarah Silverman

Michelle Obama speaking at the convention, July 2016

External video
“First Lady Michelle Obama”, 2016 Democratic National Convention, C-SPAN[61]

Minnesota Senator Al Franken introduced fellow comedian Sarah Silverman, who is also a Bernie Sanders supporter.[62] In her speech, she urged other Sanders supporters to back Hillary Clinton and later said that Bernie or Bust people “are being ridiculous”.[62] The New York Times has called her speech “the perfect breath of fresh air.”[63] The Washington Post and Politico called this one of the most memorable moments of the night.[64][65]

Michelle Obama

“And because of Hillary Clinton, my daughters and all our sons and daughters now take for granted that a woman can be president of the United States.”

Michelle Obama in 2016 Democratic National Convention[66]

In her speech, Michelle Obama defended Hillary Clinton and urged Democrats to vote for Hillary focusing on Clinton’s role as a woman and a mother.[67]Obama alluded toDonald Trump‘s actions as reasons to vote for Clinton.[68] In her speech, Obama tried to heal the fractures within the party.[69] She also narrated her experience as a black woman who is living in a “house that was built by slaves,” referring to the White House, as a reason to be hopeful about the future because she is African American and therefore is descended from those slaves.[69] She says that America has always been great.[70] The Atlanticdescribed the speech as the best of the night while saying that it is “for the ages.”[71]

Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator and former Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders spoke on the first day of the Democratic Convention, urging his supporters to vote for presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.[72] In his speech, he compared Clinton with himself and implicitly stated that he and her are similar to each other and that their policies and views are alike.[73]

See also