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Mark Warner will be giving the keynote speech tonight, but it won't be the main speech of the night - that will be Hillary Clinton's. The Keynote speech just isn't much of a keynote anymore:
Traditionally, when conventions were actually deliberative in nature, the "keynote" address, invariably held on the first night of the event, was a brief, guaranteed moment of rousing party unity before delegates moved on to more potentially divisive discussions revolving around rules, platform planks, and candidates. It was the one time you could be sure that the convention was focused outward, towards the hated partisan enemy, rather than inward, toward the party's own issues.Politico looks at some notable keynote speeches of the last 25 years.
Nowadays, there can be multiple keynote addresses (there were officially three at the 1992 Democratic convention) or none at all (as in the 2000 GOP convention). They can occur at almost any juncture, and the tone of the keynote isn't necessarily different from that of any other convention speech. Obama's 2004 effort, for example, certainly wasn't the slash-and-burn partisan diatribe of keynotes past. - Democratic Strategist