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Inside Politics

Edwards delivers

Kerry's running mate offers details, targets undecideds

By Carlos Watson
CNN

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Sen. John Edwards said his running mate, Sen. John Kerry, is a "decisive, strong" leader.
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CNN's Carlos Watson reviews Day 3 of the DNC and sets the agenda for the final day.
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America Votes 2004

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- While Monday and Tuesday night featured strong speeches by former President Bill Clinton and senatorial candidate Barack Obama of Illinois, the real business of the Democratic National Convention got under way Wednesday night.

And the good news for Democrats is that when the lights went on, John Edwards, their vice presidential nominee, delivered.

In a compelling speech aimed squarely at swaying undecided voters and securing a post-convention bump in the polls, Edwards offered a specific case for a Kerry administration: calling for broad tax cuts, limits on outsourcing, increased health care coverage and an aggressive war on terror.

On terrorism in particular, Edwards made the case that a Kerry administration would not only be tough on terrorism, but also would be even tougher (and more effective) than another Bush administration.

He promised increased spending on intelligence and Special Forces along with more help from U.S. allies, and issued a warning to al Qaeda.

"You cannot run, you cannot hide," Edwards said. "We will destroy you."

At key points in his speech, Edwards not only appealed to swing voters but also to three key constituencies in particular: working class single women, veterans and minority voters.

All three groups could be central to Democratic hopes in battleground states. For example, undecided single women could help Democrats in Louisiana, while strong veteran support could aid them in Tennessee and Virginia.

Strong turnout by African-Americans -- more than 55 percent, for example -- could significantly boost Democratic hopes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.

Earlier in the night, the Rev. Al Sharpton's much-anticipated speech was solid but not as catchy as some of his previous performances. He started slowly before finding his groove.

Elizabeth Edwards did a solid job of introducing her husband -- and like her husband, took a moment to trumpet not only John Kerry but also Teresa Heinz Kerry.

But again, the story of the night was a strong John Edwards performance.

So with three days down and one to go, the Democrats have had a good convention so far. But all of that potential post-convention bounce (perhaps as much as 8-10 percentage points) will likely rise or fall based on John Kerry's speech tonight.

And then of course, even that bounce will be sorely tested when the Republicans return to the spotlight at the end of the week.


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