Clintons vow to make Kerry next president
Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed Monday night to make John Kerry the next US president while a parade of party leaders used the opening of the Democratic National Convention to accuse President George W Bush of botching the economy as well as the war on terror.
"We, Democrats will bring the American people a positive campaign, arguing not who's good and who's bad, but what is the best way to build the safe, prosperous world our children deserve," said the former president in remarks prepared for delivery.
His wife, a first-term New York senator, drew loud cheers from the crowded convention floor when she appeared on a video screen and promised to work hard for Kerry's election.
Al Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 but lost the White House, urged Democrats to "fully and completely" channel their anger of the bitter recount and send Kerry to the White House.
"When policies are clearly not working, we can change them. If our leaders make mistakes, we can hold them accountable ¡ª even if they never admit their mistakes," said Gore.
The former vice-president drew repeated ovations from delegates packed into the FleetCenter ¡ª none louder than when he drew his wife Tipper into a kiss reminiscent of the one they shared at the convention four years ago in Los Angeles.
Former President Carter, elected to the White House in 1976, accused Bush of squandering the international goodwill that flowed to the United States in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combatting terrorism," Carter said.
Clinton, who twice led his party to victory, declared himself "a foot soldier" in Kerry's army and urged Americans to rally behind the candidate's upbeat message.
"Democrats and Republicans have very different ideas on what choices we should make, rooted in fundamentally different views of how we should meet our common challenges at home and how we should play our role in the world," Clinton said in his prepared remarks.
"Democrats want to build an America of shared responsibilities and shared opportunities ... Republicans believe in an America run by the right people ¡ª their people," he said.
Kerry runs even to slightly ahead of Bush in the polls, and Republicans dispatched a team of surrogates to the Democrats' convention city to try and slow his campaign momentum. "The Extreme Makeover Convention," they called it, deriding the Massachusetts senator as a liberal trying to run from a record of more than two decades in Congress.
Bush, at his ranch in Texas, fell while bicycling on steep dirt paths during the day. He waved away his medics and continued his ride despite a small cut on his knee.
What passed for controversy at the Democrats' unified convention was stirred by Kerry's wife. She told a persistent reporter on Sunday to "shove it" when he urged her to expand on her call for more civility in politics.
"I think my wife speaks her mind appropriately," Kerry told reporters who asked about the exchange between Teresa Heinz Kerry and the editorial page editor of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.