BOSTON – Democrats, energized by their last first lady, get their first long look Tuesday at the multimillionaire heiress who would be their next one as they turn to John Kerry's outspoken wife and an aging liberal warrior to define the Massachusetts senator they would put in the White House.
Teresa Heinz Kerry (search), widow of a Republican senator who inherited his family's ketchup fortune, and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (search) will offer the nation a more personal and family view of the party's candidate for president on the second night of the Democratic National Convention.
John Kerry was appearing Tuesday in the Navy town of Norfolk, Va., Tuesday, where he was calling for the Sept. 11 commission to continue working past its scheduled end date of Aug. 26 to ensure recommended reforms are put in place.
Kerry is to arrive at the convention Wednesday as the question of whether he or Bush can best protect America from terrorists continues to dominate the political debate.
His wife, Heinz Kerry, who drew attention this week by telling a reporter to "shove it" said in an interview broadcast Tuesday she would do it again, displaying the same unapologetic bluntness that Vice President Dick Cheney (search) showed when he defended uttering a vulgarity to a Democratic senator last month.
"If someone is really attacking your honor, or trying really to be dishonest, really to try to get you, I think most Americans, most people, would say, you know, defend yourself. And that's what I did," she said on a network morning show.
In the interview, which was taped Tuesday, Heinz Kerry also acknowledged her reluctance to see her second husband run for the White House. Her first husband, Sen. John Heinz (search), R-Pa., was killed in a plane crash in 1991.
"When you can see the faces of presidents when they go in and when they come out, it's a huge weight," she said. "A great honor, obviously, but a huge weight."
The woman who Democrats hope will become first lady is making her first national address at the convention tonight.
Democrats also are looking to their keynote speaker, Barack Obama (search), their Illinois Senate candidate who would be the first black Democrat ever to serve in the Senate, to energize the party's base.
"What I'd like to do is focus on making sure that I give voice to the stories that I'm hearing of people across Illinois who are struggling with health care bills that are rising, trying to save for college and retirement at the same time," Obama said in an interview Tuesday on another morning show.
If was former President Bill Clinton (search) and his wife who were the convention's stars Monday.
Introducing her husband Monday night as "the last great Democratic president," New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (search) revved up the packed convention hall by saying Kerry "will lead the world, not alienate it."
When the former president took the stage, delegates jumped up, screamed, applauded and waved placards. Even as he clearly enjoyed it, Clinton quickly turned the focus to insisting that Kerry would be a good commander in chief.
"During the Vietnam War, many young men, including the current president, the vice president and me, could have gone to Vietnam and didn't. John Kerry came from a privileged background. He could have avoided going too, but instead, he said: Send me," Clinton said.
In keeping with the Democratic convention strategy of avoiding strong Bush-bashing, Clinton jabbed the Republicans sharply on the economy, tax cuts and corporate windfalls, while taking more subtle digs at the president himself.
Kerry has "a willingness to hear other views, even those who disagree with him," Clinton said. "John Kerry will make choices that reflect both conviction and common sense."
Sen. John Edwards watched the opening speeches at his home in North Carolina, resting a raspy voice and doing some last-minute polishing of the speech in which he will accept the party's vice presidential nomination Thursday, aides said.
The head of the largest union in the AFL-CIO created a minor stir when he told The Washington Post the labor movement is in crisis and might be more motivated to change if Kerry is not elected president.
Andy Stern, president of the Service Employees International Union (search), later clarified his remarks, saying after the story appeared on the paper's Web site that he is committed to helping Kerry win.
Republicans, in town to combat the Democrats' message, aimed to contrast what they called Clinton's more centrist policies with Kerry's liberal voting record in the Senate.
"It's going to be difficult for Kerry to wrest control of these folks from the thrall of Bill Clinton," veteran GOP strategist Rich Galen said.
Former Vice President Al Gore (search) urged Democrats to "fully and completely" channel their anger over the bitter Florida recount, which decided the 2000 election in Bush's favor, and send Kerry to the White House.
Pre-convention polls show Kerry tied or slightly ahead of Bush, although the same surveys show the president with a clear advantage over his challenger in handling the war on terror.
The first national political convention since Sept. 11, 2001, was influenced by the terror attacks in ways both big and small. In a ceremony of remembrance, the hall went nearly dark but for small flashlights held aloft as the strains of "Amazing Grace" floated across the arena from the violin of a 16-year-old musician. Outside, armed officers stood guard along a seven-foot-tall metal security fence that ringed the convention complex.
Bush, meanwhile, stayed out of the public eye at his Texas ranch.