BOSTON – Vowing "no retreat, no surrender," John Kerry (search) arrived in Boston on Wednesday, one day ahead of his speech accepting the Democratic presidential momination.
The Massachusetts senator made that promise after crossing Boston's inner harbor by ferry for a welcome-home rally in the city that has nourished his political career for a quarter century. He will be walking into a convention hall that has been home to speech after speech hailing his and running mate John Edward's (search) virtues and disputing those of President Bush.
Kerry took a tour boat across Boston Harbor to the Charleston Navy Yard, where he rallied supporters in the first stage of accepting his party's nomination for president of the United States.
"We're going to write the next great chapter of America's history together," Kerry told the crowd in advance of his acceptance speech Thursday night.
Kerry's plane touched down under a cloudy Boston sky around 11:20 a.m. EDT. His arrival in Boston brought to an end his journey along "America's Freedom Trail," the route he took from his birthplace in Colorado across the nation and northward along the East Coast to his hometown.
The Boston Brahmin was welcomed by 13 of his crewmates from his Navy service in Vietnam. All 14 veterans later took the Lulu E, a 114-foot harbor cruise boat to the Navy Yard, famous as the location of the USS Constitution, or "Old Ironsides."
Kerry put a life vest over crewmate Jim Rassmann, the man he pulled from the waters of Vietnam's Bay Hap River 35 years ago.
Earlier in the day, 12 retired admirals and generals endorsed Kerry in an effort to show military support for the Democrat. Democrats say more than 500 of the delegates are veterans.
Righting the Wrongs
The convention entered its third day Wednesday and early speakers said Kerry and Edwards have what it takes to secure the country’s homeland, mend relations with the rest of the world and make sure Americans have jobs, quality health care and confidence that their president is working in their bests interests.
Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford (search) told delegates that despite their very different backgrounds, Kerry and Edwards as a team offer America a White House ticket that will right the last four years of wrongs done by the Bush administration.
"They firmly believe in the idea if you work hard and play by the rules, very little is beyond your reach," Ford told delegates.
While Kerry had "amazing opportunities" that came with his upper-crust upbringing, he knew those opportunities came with "huge responsibilities," said Ford, who was the keynote speaker at the party’s 2000 convention.
Ford spoke hours after Kerry made a splashy entrance in Boston and then attended a rally to rev up supporters for the last two days of festivities. Kerry has been listening from a distance to speeches at Boston's FleetCenter.
Edwards, dubbed a "son of the South," is "an example of what every American can accomplish if given a chance to reach his or her dream," Ford said. The North Carolina senator -- the son of a mill worker -- was the first in his family to go to college and law school.
"For the past four years, we’ve been offered the wrong set of answers to a daunting new set of problems," Ford said. Kerry and Edwards "offer new hope needed to empower the next generation of patriots, entrepreneurs and engineers ... John Kerry and John Edwards (search) know a lot about the greatest of America."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (search) of Vermont said the United States has “alienated” its allies and needs a change in leadership.
“America needs a new president, a new president who has the vision and the credibility to repair the damage that the current administration has done to America’s reputation,” Leahy said, noting last week’s release of the Sept. 11 commission report. “A new president that understands America can’t just tell everyone what to do but we also must inspire them to do it; a new president who will once again restore wisdom and judgment to the White House; a new president named John Kerry.”
Rep. Charles Rangel (search) of New York, who has been a vocal opponent of the Iraq war, said Americans should be "mad as hell" that senior citizens can’t get quality, affordable health care, that the United States went to war with "bad information" and that "our kids are being used …and they have to join the military because they can’t find a job."
In an effort to insure that wealthy young people serve in the military too, Rangel has called for the draft to be reinstated.
On the homeland security front, New York Sen. Charles Schumer (search) said Kerry understands the need for a strong foreign policy that, unlike Bush's, involves working with allies. And Kerry will dedicate more resources and effort to defend the nation’s ports, railways and bridges.
"No country, no matter how strong," can fight the War on Terror alone, Schumer said. "John Kerry is the right choice for America’s safety, security and strength."
Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell said the Kerry-Edwards ticket is the right one to put the country on the road toward embracing a more sensible energy policy.
"Our energy plan is not for sale to the highest bidder," she said.
Daytime speakers also included former Ohio Sen. and astronaut John Glenn and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
A Republican Point of View
Republicans set out on Wednesday to counter the notion that Kerry is better suited to address national security issues than President Bush. At their war room in Boston, they aired a 12-minute film that edited together what they say are contradictions in Kerry's position on issues, especially national security.
Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie (search) introduced the reel and said Kerry's positions on the war have "more to do with Iowa than Iraq."
The Kerry campaign responded that the release demonstrates that Republicans have misplaced their priorities in the "War on Terror" and called Kerry's record "principled" and "consistent."
Fox News' Catherine Loper and David Rhodes contributed to this report.