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Combative Democrats Praise Kerry, Criticize Bush - 2004-07-28

Democrats have wrapped up the second day of their national convention in Boston, that later this week will nominate Senator John Kerry for President. Speakers at the convention praised Mr. Kerry's qualifications for the nation's top office and criticized President Bush for his administration's handling of the war in Iraq.

Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy brought the Democratic delegates to their feet, as his speech set the tone for the second night of their political convention.

Mr. Kennedy, who has served more than 40-years in the U-S Senate, is the patriarch of a family synonymous with American politics that has deep roots here in Boston.

The senator, 72, has been relentless in his criticism of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, a war he calls misguided.

"More than 900 of our servicemen and women have already paid the ultimate price," he said. "Nearly 6,000 have been wounded in this misguided war. The administration has alienated long-time allies. Instead of making American more secure, they have made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism and the war against al-Qaida."

The convention also featured appearances by candidates that Senator Kerry defeated in the Democratic primaries earlier this year.

Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, once the front-runner in the race, urged delegates to support Mr. Kerry and his vice presidential running mate John Edwards.

"I'm voting for John Kerry and John Edwards because I'm tired of seeing hard-working Americans struggling with jobs that pay less than they did four years ago," he said. "I'm voting for John Kerry and John Edwards because I want a president and vice president as good and as strong as the American people. I'm voting for John Kerry and John Edwards because I want to see an America that restored as the moral leader of the world."

The Democratic Party also showcased younger talent when Barack Obama, 42, took the national spotlight while delivering the convention's keynote address.

Mr. Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, is a rising star and the party's candidate for the U.S. Senate from the state of Illinois.

The Harvard educated law professor told the convention that Senator Kerry's actions in the past show leadership qualities that qualify him to be America's president.

"Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer," he said. "That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and sacrifice, because they have defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country."

Convention delegates greeted with enthusiastic applause the session's final speaker, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Facing a sea of red and white signs on the convention floor that read "we love you Teresa," Mrs. Heinz-Kerry recalled her husband's bravery during the Vietnam War.

"John is a fighter. He earned his medals the old fashioned way, by putting his life on the line for his country. No one will defend this nation more vigorously than he will and he will always be first in the line of fire," he said.

Senator Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Boston Wednesday and late Thursday will be nominated as the Democratic Party's candidate for the White House to challenge President Bush this fall.