Delegates from the Democratic Party are gathering in the northeastern U.S. city of Boston, for a four-day convention that culminates with Senator John Kerry accepting the party's nomination for president.
Security is the main concern of convention organizers, who are hosting more than 4,000 party delegates from around the country and U.S. territories, as well as a small group of American expatriates from overseas and top party leaders, including members of Congress and ex-presidents.
A security perimeter has been set up around the Fleet Center, in central Boston, where the convention is being held. Visitors are required to go through security checkpoints and show identification. A special fenced-in area has been set up near the convention hall for protesters.
The convention starts Monday. Each of the four nights will highlight different themes the Democratic Party hopes to emphasize.
Highlighted speakers include former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, as well as former presidential candidate Al Gore. The party's nominee for president, John Kerry, addresses the convention Thursday.
Presumptive vice-presidential nominee John Edwards speaks to the convention Wednesday night. He told ABC television's This Week, that he and Mr. Kerry plan to emphasize their goal of uniting the country.
"It seems to me, the responsibility of a president and a vice president is to bridge those very difficult gaps, and to unite the country, instead of using them as a political tool to divide the country, which is exactly what John and I want to do," said Senator Edwards. "I think I understand at the deepest level what these folks care about. They want their leaders to be good people, that's what they really want."
Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, who is Mr. Kerry's senior colleague from Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate, said he is glad to see the convention taking place in his hometown, Boston.
"I am looking forward [to it]. I love Boston. This is where eight of my grandparents came into Boston in 1848. This is the place my grandfather represented in the Congress. He was the mayor of this city. My brother represented it. So, I am proud of Boston. Im proud of my roots. I am proud of the role that Boston played in American history," said Senator Kennedy.
The Democratic National Convention is taking advantage of the Internet to bring the proceedings to people who cannot attend in person, with live Webcasts from the convention floor and live interactive Web-chats with Democratic leaders. Also, for the first time, the organizers have granted media credentials to people who write "blogs." The term is short for Web log, which refers to journal-type entries that are publicly posted on the Internet.
The convention is held once every four years, prior to a U.S. presidential election. The Republican Party will hold a similar meeting next month in New York.