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At convention, Democratic heavyweights flex muscles for Gore

Kennedys, Bradley, Jackson lead rallying call for vice president



LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Some of the biggest names in the Democratic Party rallied behind Vice President Al Gore on Tuesday, telling Democratic National Convention delegates -- and a national television audience -- that Gore was the clear choice for the presidency.

"Let me get right to the point -- we're all here to elect the next president of the United States, Al Gore," former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey, Gore's chief rival in the primary campaign, said to thunderous applause.

"It is absolutely essential that we get behind Al Gore. I support him. I endorse him. I'll work hard forhim. Our country needs a Democratic president, a Democratic Congress and most important a Democratic conscience. Electing Al Gore and Joe Lieberman is the right thing to do for our country."

Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Memphis, Tenn., the convention's keynote speaker, said Gore "is the rare leader who both has a vision for the future and understands that we can only realize its full promise when all our people share in it."

"He jumped feet first into public life and was elected one of Tennessee's youngest congressmen ever. That's when he became my role model, I might add," said Ford, who at 30 is one of the House's youngest members.

"It is up to every single one of us to leave this convention and work as hard as we can to help Al Gore create the America of our ideals."
— Caroline Kennedy

Earlier Tuesday night, Sen. Edward Kennedy strode to the podium to make comparisons between his brother, President Kennedy, who received the Democratic nomination in Los Angeles in 1960, and Gore. "How proud (John Kennedy) would be of Al Gore and our party and the new barrier of bigotry we are breaking down with the choice of Joe Lieberman as the next Vice President of the United States."

"I support Al Gore for president, not solely because he has helped lead us to the strongest economy in American history -- as important as that is," Kennedy said. I support him with my whole resolve because I know from his record -- and not just from his words -- that Al Gore will not stop fighting -- Al Gore will not stop striving -- until we have quality, affordable health care for all Americans."

"This is not the time to play partisan games with human health. Let there be no mistake about it, there is a profound difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees on this issue, this life and death issue for all Americans," he said, noting that Gore would move the country toward universal health care.

Greeted by the wistful strains of "Camelot" and a standing ovation just moments before her uncle took the stage, Caroline Kennedy praised the years of public service engaged in by both Gore and Lieberman, and charging the audience to become involved in government, saying: "It is up to us."

"It is up to every single one of us to leave this convention and work as hard as we can to help Al Gore create the America of our ideals."

Bill Bradley addresses the Democratic National Convention

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Caroline Kennedy addresses the Democratic National Convention

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"We need a president who is not afraid of complexity, who believes in an open and tolerant society, and who knows that the world can be made new again --- and that President is Al Gore," she said.

Tuesday's high-spirited gathering was illuminated further when Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, Gore's running mate, appeared in the arena. The Connecticut senator, whose status as a national candidate is a mere week old, wended his way through the crowded Staples Center, greeting well-wishers and waving to the crowd before taking his seat in the audience.

In an evening dedicated to not only carving out the Democrats' positions, but introducing voters and viewers to Gore, Jesse Jackson praised the vice president for his selection of a running mate.

"The long arm of justice reaches neither for the political left nor the political right, but for the moral center," Jackson said in his measured cadence, running through a list of traditionally Democratic issues and heralding Gore and Lieberman as "America's dream team of the Democratic Party."

Jackson noted marked distinctions between the Gore-Lieberman ticket and the their Republican rivals, Texas Gov. George W. Bush and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.

"In selecting Joe Lieberman, Al Gore has brought the sons and daughters of slaves and slavemasters, together with the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors. He raised the moral chin bar. When a barrier falls for one of the locked out, it opens the doors for all."

"I say America: Stay out of the Bushes," Jackson said.

DNC National Chairman Joe Andrew opened the evening session with a rousing call to arms that underscored the afternoon's issue-oriented statements in support of abortion rights, labor unions and equality for gays: "We don't care if you are young or old or just don't want to tell your age, you are welcome into the Democratic Party," he said.

He was followed to the podium by activists and union leaders who set the tone for the evening, as speakers remarked about the need for improvements in health care and education.

"This election is not simply a contest of views, but of values, said Kate Michelman, head of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. "The value we place on a woman's life. The value we place on a woman's choice to raise a child."


Tuesday, August 15, 2000

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