Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Reject `hateful politics,' Edwards urges

BATTLE TESTED Delegates nominated Kerry in an almost unanimous vote while his running mate John Edwards touted the senator's Vietnam War credentials

AFP , Boston

Delegate Elsie Burkhalter wears a large button showing presidential candidate John Kerry at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Massachusetts, on Wednesday. Kerry earlier arrived in Boston to be formally anointed as the Democratic challenger to President Bush on a night when his running mate John Edwards took center stage for the biggest speech of his career.

PHOTO: REUTERS

US Democrats nominated Senator John Kerry for president late Wednesday, setting the tone for his campaign with sharp attacks on the Republican security record that is President George W. Bush's main claim to re-election.

The party's national convention gave Kerry the nod after hearing a vibrant tribute from running mate John Edwards, who hailed him as a battle-tested warrior bent on wiping out years of Bush's "hateful, negative politics."

The nearly unanimous vote by more than 4,300 delegates set the stage for Kerry's acceptance speech yesterday, which could be a defining moment for his White House ambitions.

With polls showing voters still unclear about the character and policies of the four-term Massachusetts lawmaker, Kerry, 60, must make the speech of his life to counter Republican charges he is weak and waffling, analysts said.

Edwards, a smooth-talking populist senator from North Carolina, did his best Wednesday to build up his new boss, mixing high praise for Kerry with biting broadsides against their opponents in the Nov. 2 election.

Edwards, 51, also capped a concerted, day-long Democratic effort in Kerry's hometown here to boost the decorated Vietnam war hero's credentials as a determined and tough leader.

Drawing the contrast between Kerry and Bush, who never saw combat, Edwards said, "When a man volunteers to serve his country, and puts his life on the line for others -- that's a man who represents real American values.

He said Kerry's navy comrades "saw up close what he's made of. They saw him reach down and pull one of his men from the river and save his life.

"And in the heat of battle, they saw him decide in an instant to turn his boat around, drive it straight through an enemy position, and chase down the enemy to save his crew.

"Decisive. Strong. Aren't these the traits you want in a commander in chief?" asked Edwards, who was to be formally anointed to the number two slot on the ticket yesterday.

He chided the Bush administration for failing to take prompt action to shore up homeland defenses after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and swore to heed the conclusions of the national panel that probed the disaster.

"We will build and lead strong alliances and safeguard and secure weapons of mass destruc-tion," he said. "We will always use our military might to keep the American people safe.

"And we will have one clear unmistakable message for al-Qaeda and the rest of these terrorists. You cannot run. You cannot hide. And we will destroy you."

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