On the third day of its convention in Boston, Massachusetts, the Democratic party is poised to formally approve Senator John Kerry as its presidential nominee.

As the convention moved toward the end of its third day, the focus turned to the "roll call" of the 50 U.S. states and territories that will formally nominate Senator Kerry as the Democratic party candidate for president.

California Senator Dianne Feinstein presented the first formal nominating speech for Mr. Kerry. "On behalf of Democrats all across this great nation, I am both proud and pleased to place the name of John Kerry into nomination to become the 44th President of the United States of America," she said.

Mr. Kerry will not speak until Thursday, but in brief remarks after arriving in Boston earlier in the day, Mr. Kerry said he looked forward to his address Thursday formally accepting the nomination as president:

"I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to my opportunity -- a little more than 24 hours from now -- to share with you and all of America a vision for how we are going to make this country stronger at home and respected in the world," he said.

Among speakers to the convention Wednesday were several members of Congress, and African-American leaders, including Jesse Jackson. "Bring the troops home, send Bush to Texas. It's time to send John Kerry and John Edwards to the White House this November. Keep hope alive! Keep hope alive!," he said.

Racial and social issues were highlighted by the often controversial Al Sharpton, one of two African-Americans who competed with Senator Kerry for the Democratic nomination.

Referring to the promise of America the fiery Mr. Sharpton struck out at a range of societal inequalities he says have worsened under Republican control of government. And he brushed aside President Bush's recent overture to African-Americans, in which he asserted Democrats take the black vote for granted:

"We didn't come this far playing political games. It was those that earned our vote that got our vote. We got the civil rights act under Democrats. We got the voting rights act under a Democrat. We got the right to organize under the Democrats," he said.

In a fiery speech, Dennis Kucinich, the former Cleveland mayor and one-time Democratic presidential challenger to Senator Kerry, reprised themes on which his unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination was based, such as the plight of the poor and working middle class and racial divisions.

"I have seen weapons of mass destruction in our cities. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness (is) a weapon of mass destruction. Racism (is) a weapon of mass destruction. Fear a weapon of mass destruction. We must disarm these weapons," he said.

In a tribute to their past roles in Democratic politics, former party presidential candidates George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis will receive recognition from the convention. The three lost to Republicans in previous elections.

Republicans hold their convention in New York City at the end of August. The U.S. general election takes place on November 2.