Senior Leaders Highlight Day One at Dem Convention
BOSTON (Talon News) -- Former President Bill Clinton was clearly the highlight of day one of the Democratic National Convention at Boston's FleetCenter. The speeches of Clinton and other senior Democratic Party leaders focused on improving international relations, strengthening the military, creating new jobs, and expanding health-care coverage.
The convention will wrap-up on Thursday, when Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) formally accepts the Democratic Party's nomination to run with his vice presidential running mate, North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, in the November 2nd presidential election.
The Democratic Party had worried that Clinton would overshadow Kerry, but those fears were unfounded, as Clinton said he was a "foot soldier" in Kerry's battle to become the next U.S. president. Clinton, who drew the loudest ovations of the evening, supported Kerry and avoided reference to current U.S. President George W. Bush by name. Rather than touting his own legacy, Clinton laid out the case to the American voters that the president needs to be a Democrat, and not a Republican.
"Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas on what choices we should make," Clinton said. "[W]e Democrats want to build a world and an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities; On the other hand, Republicans in Washington believe in an America run by the right people, their people."
Clinton was introduced by his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her brief speech, which lacked the power of her husband's, also avoided references to Bush and praised Kerry.
She said Kerry would "lead the world, not alienate it. He will lower the deficit, not raise it. He will create good jobs, not lose them. And he will solve a health care crisis for our people, not ignore it".
Former Vice President Al Gore urged Bush's defeat, although his recent direct attacks on Bush were replaced with more subdued questions.
Commenting on terrorism, Gore asked, "Wouldn't we be safer with a president who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq?"
Gore also questioned the administration's handling of diplomacy.
"No challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq," Gore said. "Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn't it now obvious that the way the war has been managed by the administration has gotten us into very serious trouble?"
Gore furthered his attack on the Bush administration's foreign policy and demanded change.
"I firmly believe America needs new leadership that will make us stronger at home and respected in the world," Gore said.
Of all the speakers, former President Jimmy Carter hit Bush the hardest. Although he never mentioned Bush by name, Carter accused the current president of misusing the international goodwill received by the U.S. after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
"Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism," said Carter. "The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of preemptive war".
In addition to the speakers, the Democratic Party platform was addressed. The plank concerning the War in Iraq was determined to be an open ended financial commitment, even though a Boston Globe poll found 95% of the delegates do not support the war.
The 4,353 delegates and throngs of media gathered amid unprecedented security. The subway station running close to the FleetCenter was barricaded shut. Helicopters constantly circled overhead, while bomb-sniffing dogs and closed streets were also prevalent.
A seven-foot-tall metal security fence ringing the FleetCenter complex was guarded with armed personnel. Elevated rail lines overlooking the complex were used by camouflaged military police as surveillance points.
Neither of the nominees was at the convention Monday. Kerry spent the day in Cape Canaveral, Florida at the Kennedy Space Center, while Edwards was campaigning in North Carolina. President Bush was kept abreast of the convention while at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, while Vice President Dick Cheney campaigned in the Pacific Northwest.
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