Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Democratic Party leaders officially will present Sen. John Kerry to the American people later this month in Boston, elaborately packaged as a war hero, family man and world leader.

The overriding theme of the four-day convention, which begins July 26, will be “Stronger at Home; Respected in the World.”

The convention also will provide a national introduction and platform for Mr. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.

“The 2004 Democratic Convention will tell the life stories of John Kerry and John Edwards to the nation — the story of their lifetime of service to the nation and fight for average Americans, and their vision for a stronger and more secure America,” said Bill Richardson, a chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

“We believe in a nation that is stronger at home, respected in the world, and this convention will showcase the team that Americans can trust to always be on their side to achieve that goal,” the New Mexico governor said.

Party officials yesterday released the first detailed plans for their nominating convention, in which they hope to “fill in the blanks for voters about the presumptive presidential nominee.”

“We will use these four days in Boston to introduce John Kerry and John Edwards to Americans,” Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Terry McAuliffe said.

Republican National Committee communications director Jim Dyke promised to monitor the convention and provide the public with the “real record” of the candidates.

“It will take an extreme makeover of John Kerry and the Democrat Party’s rhetoric to make both presentable to Americans,” Mr. Dyke said. “For four days, the Boston convention will serve as the Democrat’s great salon.”

Speakers will include former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, all of whom will “outline John Kerry’s proven leadership, real experience and optimistic vision to strengthen America,” according to the party release.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts also will “talk about John Kerry and John Edwards’ service to the nation and fight for average Americans.”

Introducing Mr. Kerry on the final night of the convention will be former Sen. Max Cleland, the Georgia Democrat and three-limb amputee Vietnam veteran who was voted out of office in 2002, after his Republican challenger made an issue of his votes against creating the Department of Homeland Security.

A major aspect of the convention will be highlighting Mr. Kerry’s service in Vietnam, where he was awarded a Silver Star, a Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts and was shipped home after four months of combat.

Despite his battle decorations, Mr. Kerry continues to poll poorly on national-security issues against President Bush, who never saw combat. The convention also will feature Mr. Kerry’s crewmates from Vietnam.

“John Kerry and John Edwards have the strength of character and toughness to lead America during difficult times and a plan to keep us safe,” according to the party’s press release.

“They will protect America by building a strong military and strengthening international alliances, and they will protect us at home by improving homeland security and by supporting our police, firefighters and other first responders,” the DNC said.

Mr. Edwards, who made millions as a personal-injury lawyer representing auto and other accident victims, joined the Senate in 1998. He will be introduced by his wife, Elizabeth, who also is a lawyer.

Other speakers will include Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Ron Reagan, the son of former President Ronald Reagan.

Mr. Reagan will argue about the importance of public funding for stem-cell and fetal-tissue research, which requires the use of destroyed fetuses or embryos — a policy opposed by President Bush.

“Ron Reagan’s courageous pleas for stem-cell research add a powerful voice to the millions of Americans hoping for cures for their children, for their parents and for their grandparents,” Kerry spokesman David Wade said.

Mr. Reagan, 46, who has been critical of the Bush administration, said his speech will be only about public funding for stem-cell research.

“If they had asked me to say a few words about throwing George Bush out of office, I wouldn’t do it,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “This gives me a platform to educate people about stem-cell research.”

The week also brought a conciliatory meeting between Mr. Kerry and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, who just two weeks ago called the hometown candidate’s campaign “small-minded” and “incompetent.”

Mr. Kerry infuriated the Democratic mayor after refusing to cross a picket line to address the U.S. Conference of Mayors hosted in Boston last month.

Police officers and firefighters were protesting a contract dispute with Mr. Menino and have threatened to protest during the Democratic convention.

“Mayor Menino said to Senator Kerry that the most important thing he can do is to work for the election of John Kerry,” Menino spokesman Seth Gitell said. “Mayor Menino said that the time is now to focus on the future and the important presidential election in November.”

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