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Joe Biden speaks last week in Darby, Pa. Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Democrats are trying to make a virtue of necessity by modernizing the rusty convention format for a mostly virtual gathering in Milwaukee in August, with up to 1,000 people in real life but extensive use of videos and remotes.

What's planned: The program will be shorter — 8 to 11 p.m. ET over four nights, instead of starting at the traditional 4 or 5 p.m. And there'll be fewer speeches, with a mix of live and taped segments from around the country.

  • The emphasis will be on storytelling — what President Trump has done vs. what America could be under Joe Biden.
  • It'll be billed as a convention for all Americans, with outreach to people who supported Bernie Sanders — and Trump 2016 voters who regret it.

The state of play: The Democratic National Convention Committee announced Wednesday that the "Convention Across America" will be "anchored in Milwaukee," moved from the arena where the Bucks play to a smaller convention center downtown.

  • "[S]tate delegations should not plan to travel to Milwaukee and should plan to conduct their official convention business remotely," the DNCC said.

Between the lines: Both parties are playing up the optical contrast between their conventions, with Trump trying to send a comeback message via a massive gathering (now in Jacksonville) with pre-pandemic exuberance.

  • So the conventions — held back-to-back in the third and fourth weeks of August, with Dems first — will be constraint vs. bravado, a proxy for Trump vs. Biden.

The bottom line ... Axios' Margaret Talev calls the Democrats' approach a "forced reset" — experiments the country has been living with for 3+ months:

  • Pare back to essentials.
  • See what can work virtually with technology.
  • Try innovations that'd be tough sells in "normal" times.
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Go deeper

What to watch in tonight's debate

Joe Biden (left) and President Trump (right) are facing off in Cleveland for the first presidential debate. Photos: Alex Wong (of Biden) and David Hume Kennerly (of Trump)/Getty Images

President Trump will try to break Joe Biden's composure by going after his son Hunter and other family members in tonight's first presidential debate — a campaign source tells Axios "nothing will be off the table" — while Biden plans to stick to the economy, coronavirus and new revelations about how Trump avoided paying taxes.

Driving the news: Biden and Trump are set to debate at 9pm ET at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and it will be moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Biden to nominate Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary

Photo: Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury Secretary, four people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Yellen, 74, will bring instant economic celebrity to Biden’s team and, if confirmed, she will not only be the first female Treasury Secretary but also the first person to have held all three economic power positions in the federal government: the chair of Council of Economic Advisers, the chair of Federal Reserve and the Treasury Secretary.

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Axios Re:Cap digs into the state of vaccine and therapeutics manufacturing with Bob Nelsen, a successful biotech investor who on Monday launched Resilience, a giant new pharma production platform that he believes will prepare America for its next major health challenges.