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Kerry sails in, Edwards to speak at Boston

By MARIE HORRIGAN, UPI Deputy Americas Editor   |   July 28, 2004 at 2:21 PM
BOSTON, July 28 (UPI) -- Presumptive candidate for president John Kerry descended on Boston and the Democratic National Convention Wednesday, flanked by his ubiquitous "band of brothers," while likely vice presidential candidate John Edwards geared up for the night's speech.

A smiling, tanned and relaxed-looking Kerry puttered up in a boat to a rally at Boston's Charlestown Navy Yard amid cheering supporters. Among Kerry's crewmates Wednesday were those from the Vietnam War, including the Rev. David Alston who Monday night addressed delegates about why Kerry's wartime experience proved he was ready to lead the country.

Kerry's arrival marks the end of a nearly weeklong journey around the United States to meet with voters, a trek that began with a rally in Kerry's hometown of Aurora, Colo.

The convention's main business of the day, aside from the pomp and pageantry, was the nomination of Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and John Edwards, D-N.C., for November's presidential election. For Edwards, the goal was to win over any voters concerned he is too inexperienced for the job, a charge Kerry levied against him when both competed for the nomination for president.

Edwards practiced his speech at Boston's FleetCenter early Wednesday after he arrived in Boston fresh from a send-off rally in his home state of North Carolina.

He was due to be introduced by his wife, fellow lawyer Elizabeth Edwards, at the night's ceremony. She, in turn, would be introduced by their eldest daughter, 22-year-old Princeton graduate Cate Edwards.

Elizabeth Edwards said her husband would provide a positive look at the campaign's plans.

"He'll be talking about both about the big themes of this campaign, optimism, searching for a better tomorrow that this nation has always represented," she told CBS's "Early Show."

"He'll be talking a lot about Senator Kerry and the attributes that he brings and will bring to the office of the presidency. And he'll be talking about specifics of their plan to bring strength at home and abroad."

The day's events were scheduled to highlight the campaign's plans for national security. Democrats have worked to dispel the generalization they are soft on security, with the issue comprising more than half the party's platform.

The campaign's national security advisers met with reporters Wednesday to discuss their plans to fulfill the convention's theme: "Stronger at home, respected in the world."

But more than halfway through the convention, the candidates already appeared to be benefiting from their exposure before the American electorate.

A study released by the Annenberg Center indicated undecided voters said Kerry was more caring and knowledgeable than President Bush, and also less reckless, stubborn and arrogant.

Tuesday's speakers, including speeches by Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz Kerry, stepson Chris Heinz and fellow Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, were chosen for their ability to humanize Kerry. Polls indicate the candidate has had trouble connecting with voters, but the Annenberg study indicated that the convention - Democrats' best opportunity to frame their candidate -- will be building on sentiments already moving in the campaign's direction.

Edward's speech will be the spotlight of the day's events, but also scheduled to speak is Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Firefighters, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm and retired Gen. John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Rev. Al Sharpton will be joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who originally was not scheduled to speak, while musical group Black Eyed Peas and Wyclef Jean were to perform.

Even after the festivities end Wednesday night, delegates will have to take care of the business of nominating their candidates. The process involves a roll call vote after the end of the night's festivities at 11 p.m., conducted alphabetically by state.

Convention Committee Chairman Bill Richardson, New Mexico's governor, is to preside over the vote, which is expected to run after midnight as one by one the state committees announce their endorsement.

Of the convention's 4,353 delegates, 2,162 are required to become the nominee, but the Democratic National Convention Committee refused to say which state would serve as the tipping point. Traditionally the candidate's home state -- in Kerry's case convention host Massachusetts -- is given that honor.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who endorsed Kerry last week, Monday released his delegates to "vote your conscience."

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(Please send comments to nationaldesk@upi.com.)

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