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Democratic National Presidential Convention Gets Under Way - 2004-07-26

The Democratic national convention to nominate the party's presidential candidate opens Monday in the northeastern U.S. city of Boston. Party members are using the four-day meeting to present a unified face to the American voting public.

There are no surprises planned Thursday, as Senator John Kerry accepts the Democratic Party's nomination for president. Senator John Edwards will be his vice-presidential running mate.

What was a surprise, though, was Senator Kerry's appearance Sunday in Boston to throw out the opening pitch for a baseball game pitting the Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees.

"I am glad to be here. This is so much fun," Senator Kerry said.

The home team won the game, and Senator Kerry has returned to the campaign trail, which includes a stop in Florida.

Security is tight around Boston's Fleet Center, where the more than 4,300 Democratic Party delegates from the 50 states will be meeting, along with delegates representing U.S. territories and Americans living overseas.

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who was in charge of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, told NBC's Today show he is satisfied with the preparations for the convention.

"The convention is a shorter period of time than the Olympics were. We have only one major hard target, and that is the Fleet Center,? Governor Romney said. ? And so, the expense of roughly $50 million, with well over 3000 personnel, military, police personnel here its all very, very impressive."

Governor Romney, who calls himself a lonely Republican in mostly Democratic Massachusetts, said although he does not agree, politically, with his Democratic rivals, he wants to welcome them to Boston.

"This is not a political time for me. This is a time for me to be a welcoming host to the Democrats in town. But I want them to have a good convention, and, of course, I want their nominee to go on - and not be successful." governor Romney said.

The first day of the convention highlights speeches by former Democratic presidents, including Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. Other speakers include former vice-president and 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore, members of Congress and one of John Kerry's former Vietnam Swift-Boat crewmates.

Former first lady and now senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton, will introduce her husband. She told the Today show she will not criticize President Bush, but will build up the case for her party's presidential candidate, Senator Kerry.

"What I want to do is talk about John Kerry, whom I know and admire, and believe would be a terrific president,? senator Clinton said. ?I think he is exactly the right person to be president at this time. I trust him to make the decisions that are going to protect my constituents and all Americans."

Meanwhile, outside the convention, thousands of demonstrators rallied against the war in Iraq, for free speech, and for gay rights Sunday. More protests are expected during the meeting. Demonstrators are being confined to an area near the Fleet Center that is surrounded with barb-wire topped fences and covered with plastic netting, which many of them compared to a cage.