Thu, Jul 29, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Democrats to give Kerry official nod as Edwards speaks

CONVENTION A series of tightly scripted events, including the traditional roll call of delegates, was climax with a speech by the party's vice-presidential candidate

REUTERS , BOSTON

Democrats yesterday were to formally nominate Senator John Kerry as their challenger to US President George W. Bush in November and hear from vice presidential running mate Senator John Edwards in a nationally televised speech.

Kerry, concluding a six-day cross-country tour on the road to Boston, was scheduled to arrive in the city at midday on the eve of his nationally televised speech accepting the nomination tonight.

He was to be met at the airport by Navy crewmates from the Vietnam War, who were to join him on a boat to cross Boston Harbor for a rally at Charleston Navy Yard.

Twelve retired generals and admirals were to endorse Kerry yesterday, and a special video tribute at the convention was to feature flag officers talking about their support for Kerry.

The tightly scripted events are part of the campaign's effort to showcase the Massachusetts senator's background as a decorated Vietnam War veteran, which his advisers see as a key attribute and a counter to Republican efforts to paint him as a traditional liberal who is weak on defense.

A parade of Democratic speakers on Tuesday night praised Kerry as a leader who could unite a divided nation and give a helping hand to struggling middle- and lower-class families.

"John Kerry offers hope, not fear," said Senator Edward Kennedy, a Democratic party legend who welcomed delegates to Boston. He said of Republicans, "They divide and try to conquer."

For many delegates, the speech by Edwards was their first close look at the senator. Edwards, who joined the ticket three weeks ago to bring Kerry a jolt of youthful energy and Southern-style populism, arrived in Boston on Tuesday.

He made a post-midnight visit to the Fleet Center convention site early yesterday to check out the podium where he was to deliver his address and familiarize himself with the layout of the hall.

"Should I just go ahead and give the speech now?" Edwards asked as he surveyed the hall with his wife, Elizabeth.

Earlier, on his campaign plane, he told reporters he planned a positive speech that would lay out some of the themes for the fall general election campaign against Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

"I'll talk some about Senator Kerry ... I will talk some about my own background, and then lay out some specific ideas to support our vision for the country," Edwards said.

The speech by Edwards, one of the most anticipated of the convention, will give the first-term senator his biggest national stage and offer a prime-time televised showcase to a candidate voters know even less than Kerry.

Edwards, who rested a hoarse voice on Monday, said he was fully recovered and ready for the speech.

Kerry was to be nominated formally during a state-by-state roll call of convention delegates. He continued to tinker with his acceptance speech, which he will deliver tonight, throughout his trip to Boston.

He held a folder containing the speech as he watched his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, speak.

Also see story:

Kerry's `evolving' position on Iraq made into video

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