Delegates at the Democratic National Convention have formally nominated John Kerry as the party's candidate to challenge President Bush in the November election. The nomination came after vice presidential candidate John Edwards received an enthusiastic reception.
Former astronaut John Glenn, an American hero, announced that the battleground state of Ohio, which is expected to play a critical role in the upcoming election, cast the votes from the convention floor that put John Kerry over the top, giving him the Democratic Party's nomination for president.
"Ohio takes great pride tonight in being the state to put this voting over the top and making John Kerry's candidacy official as we cast 159 votes for the next president of the United States John Kerry," he said.
The vote, which was never in doubt, came just after Mr. Kerry's pick for his vice presidential running mate, North Carolina Senator John Edwards, was given a passionate reception by the delegates and electrified the convention with a stirring speech.
Mr. Edwards, who was born in a small town and raised by working-class parents, urged his supporters to wage a positive campaign that offers hope to all Americans.
He charged the Bush administration with running a negative campaign. "They are doing all they can to take the campaign for the highest office in the land down the lowest possible road. But this is where you come in," he said. "Between now and November you, the American people, you can reject this tired, old, hateful, negative, politics of the past. Instead you can embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what's possible because this is America, where everything is possible."
Mr. Edwards paid tribute to America's soldiers who died or were severely wounded during the continuing violence in Iraq.
The vice presidential candidate highlighted Senator Kerry's record as a war hero in Vietnam, saying the country needs a president who understands from personal experience what men and women in the military are going through.
Mr. Edwards said the men who served with Mr. Kerry have first hand knowledge about his bravery.
"They saw up close what he is made of. They saw him reach into the river and pull one of his men to safety and save his life," he said. "They saw him in the heat of battle make a decision in a split second to turn his boat around, drive it through an enemy position and chase down the enemy to save his crew. Decisive, strong, is this not what we need in a Commander in Chief?"
The Democrats are promoting Mr. Kerry's military background to convince Americans he has the qualifications to protect the country and fight terrorism.
A group of retired U.S. generals and admirals, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili, reinforced that theme by endorsing Mr. Kerry's candidacy at the convention.
"As a young man he heeded his country's call to service when that country of ours needed him," he said. "He commanded in combat and did so with bravery and great distinction. So he knows from experience a commander's responsibility to his troops. So he stands with our troops and with their families and that is why I stand with John Kerry."
Earlier, Senator Kerry arrived in his hometown of Boston, which has nourished his political career for decades.
Mr. Kerry was greeted by U.S. Navy veterans who served with him on small combat boats during the Vietnam War.
With the men he calls his band of brothers, Mr. Kerry crossed Boston harbor by ferry, in what campaign officials say was a symbolic moment -- the nominee for president once again leading his crew toward shore.
Mr. Kerry says his campaign is ready for the political battle to come. "No retreat. No surrender. We are taking this fight to the country, and we are going to win back our democracy and our future," he said.
Thursday night Senator Kerry will accept his party's nomination for president, marking the climax of a unified convention.
Late next month in New York delegates from the Republican Party will nominate President Bush, which will kickoff what is expected to be a bruising, closely contested campaign.