The Democratic National Convention in Boston is in its final day, with delegates anticipating the speech by Senator John Kerry accepting the party nomination for president. Mr. Kerry is expected to call for reform in the U.S. intelligence system, among other topics in his expected hour-long address.
In excerpts released in advance of his address, Senator Kerry pledges to take immediate steps to reform the U.S. intelligence system, saying policy must be guided by facts and never distorted by politics.
This Kerry position reflects criticism of the intelligence community has received since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks; in particular the findings of the independent 9/11 Commission that investigated lapses leading up to those events.
The Democratic presidential candidate is also expected to repeat campaign pledges to restore U.S. credibility he and the party say has been seriously damaged by the way President Bush took the country to war in Iraq.
That subject was raised by one of the speakers preceding Mr. Kerry, Senator Carl Levin.
"John Kerry understands that to win the war against international terrorism we must unite the world community against a common foe, and not alienate the people of the world so that they sit on the sidelines of this struggle," he said.
Although he spoke to the convention on Wednesday, Senator John Edwards was formally nominated by acclamation Thursday evening ,as convention chairman and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson announced the result:
"All in favor of the nomination of John Edwards as the vice presidential candidate of the Democratic party, please say Aye! All opposed say no. The Ayes have it and we have selected by acclamation John Edwards as the 2004 vice presidential candidate of the Democratic party," he said.
When Mr. Kerry appears before the convention, he will be introduced by former Senator Max Cleland, who also served in Vietnam and lost both legs and an arm in the conflict.
Mr. Cleland appeared earlier in the week with other veterans who had been with Mr. Kerry when he served on small military boats during the war in Southeast Asia:
"It is said that this convention and maybe even the speech he is going to deliver Thursday night will help define him, that the campaign will define him," he said. "In a very special way John Kerry has already defined himself many years ago."
Among speakers preceding Mr. Kerry were the head of the country's largest labor confederation, and the president of the biggest organization representing African Americans.
Kweisi Mfume is president of the civil rights group, the N.A.A.C.P. "Over the last four years, too many hard-working Americans have seen our nation go in the wrong direction," he said. "Too many have seen their pension plans devastated, and benefit packages shrink. We are not economist but we understand economies of scale and we know that nothing from nothing still leaves nothing."
Other speeches were by current and former members of Congress, including former member of the U.S. Senate from Missouri, Jean Carnahan who predicts a Kerry administration will do more than President Bush to help the disadvantaged in America.
"Fighting for the hurting and the helpless of this nation. Those who have no voice," he said. "That is the kind of experience I want in Washington. Experience that comes from helping real people with real problems."
There is intense speculation about Mr. Kerry's speech, which has the theme: Stronger at home, respected in the world, especially in the wake of stirring addresses by other Democrats on Wednesday.
With criticisms that he has only recently begun to effectively "define" his deeper views on major issues, he is expected to expand on his positions on the economy, the war on terror, and the situation in Iraq. The end of the Democratic convention will put Mr. Kerry back on the campaign trail immediately, against President Bush, who will be re-nominated by Republicans at their convention at the end of August.