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Democratic Political Convention Gets Under Way Monday Amid Tight Security - 2004-07-26

The Democratic party national convention gets under way later Monday in Boston, Massachusetts, with addresses by two former U.S. presidents and a number of members of Congress. There are 4,300 delegates attending the convention to nominate John Kerry as the party's presidential candidate. Helicopters fly overhead amid what may be the tightest security seen at any U.S. political convention. Heavily-armed military police and special forces units patrol not only the area directly around the Fleet Center but other areas of downtown Boston.

As part of these measures, protesters will be confined to a special fenced-in area near the convention center.

With Senator Kerry not to appear until later in the week, Monday's schedule will see former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter address the delegates, as well as Al Gore, the Democratic nominee for president in 2000.

Reflecting Democratic party hopes John Kerry can attract a large percentage of votes from minorities in the November election, also speaking will be key Hispanic and African-American lawmakers.

Campaigning Sunday in Ohio, where a Democratic victory in the November election is seen as crucial to his hopes of winning the presidency, Senator Kerry focused on the economy and other issues:

"When I see people on the other side of the fence saying four more years, I sometimes say to myself four more years of what? Four more years of jobs being lost, four more years of the deficit growing bigger, four more years of losing our allies around the world?," he said.

In an interview Sunday on ABC television's "This Week", the presumed Democratic vice presidential nominee, Senator John Edwards, criticized what he called "the politics of division" in America, and said he thinks voters will warm to Mr. Kerry as the election draws near:

"They need to see the John Kerry that I see. Most people just don't know him well," he said.

Among a flurry of public opinion polls, an Associated Press survey of Democratic delegates to the convention showed the economy, jobs and health care highest among their concerns.

Another poll by New York Times/CBS showed nine out of 10 Democratic delegates believe the United States should not have gone to war in Iraq.

Senator Kerry supported military action in Iraq, but is sharply critical of how the Bush administration handled the run-up to the war and post-war events.

As the Democrats begin their convention, President Bush remains in Crawford, Texas meeting with top aides on the next steps in his re-election campaign. He plans to return to Washington later this week.