John Kerry Is Giving His DNC Acceptance Speech Right Now, And I'm Having An Orgasm...
...actually, I'm not and I'm having a hard time staying awake. He's a boring speaker. It's better than he's sounded in the past. He's really trying to be exciting and pump up the crowd at tonight's pep rally Boston, but he's no Jesse Jackson. Good thing he's taking on a bumbling fool, who doesn't read much and can't deliver his lines.
John Kerry Challenges Bush Over Iraq War
By DAVID ESPO, AP Special Correspondent
BOSTON - Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) was to challenge President Bush (news - web sites) over the war in Iraq (news - web sites) Thursday in the climactic speech of the Democratic National Convention and was to pledge an administration where "America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to."
"I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as president," was to say the Massachusetts senator, a decorated Vietnam War veteran now seeking to oust an incumbent commander in chief.
He plans to vow to build a more robust military at home and strong alliances overseas. "And then, with confidence and determination, we will be able to tell the terrorists: You will lose and we will win."
"The future doesn't belong to fear; it belongs to freedom," he was to say in excerpts of remarks prepared for delivery.
Kerry's speech was to cap a four-day convention designed to persuade millions of undecided voters in the battleground states that he is a man tested by war and ready to take command in an era of terrorism.
Nothing was left to chance ? from a new campaign video designed to show his softer side to brief remarks from the podium by Jim Rassmann, a Vietnam veteran who credited Kerry with saving his life.
"I've witnessed his bravery and leadership under fire. And I know he will be a great commander in chief," Rassmann said in prepared remarks.
Eager to strike out from their convention city, Kerry and vice presidential running mate John Edwards (news - web sites) depart Friday for a 3,500-mile, coast-to-coast campaign swing through 21 states.
After spending the week at his Texas ranch, Bush resumes campaigning this weekend with a bus tour of battleground states and a new message. "We have turned the corner, and we are not turning back," he says in a new stump speech, excerpts of which were obtained by The Associated Press.
Kerry began the week tied or slightly ahead of Bush in the polls, a strong position for a challenger. Whatever sort of surge in support he receives from four days of his highly choreographed convention, Republicans hope to counter next month when they meet in New York to nominate Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney (news - web sites) for re-election.
In remarks aimed at a prime-time television audience as well as the thousands of delegates packed into the FleetCenter, Kerry painted a portrait of a nation suffering economically after four years of Republican rule.
"Wages are falling, health care costs are rising and our great middle class is shrinking. People are working weekends; they're working two jobs, three jobs and they're still not getting ahead," he was to say.
"We can do better and we will. We're the optimists," he was to say, and added, "We value an America where the middle class is not being squeezed, but doing better."
Kerry's decision to question the president over Iraq comes at a time of dwindling support for the president on the issue. A Pew Research Center survey earlier this month showed 42 percent support for Bush on the war, down from 59 percent six months earlier.
But Kerry sought to broaden his appeal well beyond Iraq as he bore in on national security issues that he has placed at the core of his candidacy. "In these dangerous days there is a right way and a wrong way to be strong," he was to say.
"Strength is more than tough words," Kerry was to add in a slap at Bush without mentioning the commander in chief by name.
"I will immediately reform the intelligence system so policy is guided by facts, and facts are never distorted by politics," he was to say in reference to claims that the president relied on faulty intelligence in deciding to invade Iraq in 2003.
"And as president, I will bring back this nation's time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to, we only go to war because we have to," Kerry was to say.
Kerry voted in October 2002 to give Bush the authority to use military force to topple Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (news - web sites), but later voted against legislation providing $87 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan (news - web sites).
Kerry's convention scriptwriters supplemented the speech with a biographical video pitched to voters who will choose a president come fall.
"My promise is to lead our country, to bring people together and take us to a better place," the 60-year-old lawmaker was to say in the nine-minute campaign documentary.
The video also includes the first reference from the convention podium to Kerry's emergence as a prominent anti-war activist more than three decades ago after he returned home from Vietnam.
The speech aside, all was in readiness for the traditional, made-for-television convention-ending spectacle ? the streamers, the confetti, the 100,000 red, white and blue balloons nestled in the rafters to be released on command.
Bush's GOP surrogates kept up their weeklong criticism of the Kerry-Edwards ticket in terms likely to recur throughout their own convention.
"Everything and anything has been discussed but their record," said former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) of the Democrats, joining a string of Republicans accusing Kerry of trying to obscure a career-long record of liberalism.
Edwards was up early after little sleep on the day after a convention speech that prompted sustained applause from delegates in the hall. He had breakfast with delegates from Wyoming, Alabama and his home state of North Carolina, then met separately with delegations from the battleground states of Michigan, West Virginia and New Mexico.
"The truth is, we can't do this without you," said Kerry's ticket mate. "We need you out there working, organizing, getting people to the polls."
The convention's final evening was as rigorously scripted as the first three, designed to flesh out Kerry's biography and emphasize his experience as a decorated veteran.
The video was part of the effort to shed Kerry's image as an aloof politician, casting him as an athlete and a musician, a Yale graduate and a prosecutor, a soldier and a son, a father and a husband.
"I cried like a baby when they were born, both of them," Kerry says of his two daughters, Vanessa and Alexandra.
Former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, who lost three limbs while serving in Vietnam, drew the assignment of introducing Kerry.
After days in a heavily fortified convention city, Democrats were ready to break camp. Vendors hawked their last memorabilia, from buttons to banners. "Re-defeat Bush," was one popular campaign button, a wry reference to the 2000 recount election in which Al Gore (news - web sites) won the popular vote but Bush got the White House.
Three days of relative calm in the streets yielded to noisy protests. A crowd of about 400 marched through the city as demonstrators burned a two-faced effigy with Bush on one side and Kerry on the other and started a shoving match with police.
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