BOSTON – John Edwards (search) pronounced himself "energized and excited," despite what he called an almost sleepless night, as he dashed from one state delegation to another on Thursday to fuel momentum for the newly minted Democratic ticket.
At a breakfast hosted by home state North Carolina, the Democratic vice presidential candidate thanked delegates for their chants of support for his speech the night before. He asked them to show equal enthusiasm when his running mate accepts the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday night.
"Do exactly the same thing for John Kerry (search)," Edwards told the breakfast, also attended by delegates from Alabama, Mississippi and Wyoming. He met separately with delegates from the key battleground states of Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and New Mexico.
Edwards also was making a conference call to Democratic "convention watch" parties in all 50 states before Kerry addresses the convention.
The first-term senator told Ohio delegates they are at "ground zero" in the presidential contest. Both parties are vying hard to win its prize of 20 electoral votes.
Bush easily won Ohio in 2000, but its lagging economy puts the state in play.
Ohio was designated by Democratic leaders to be the state to put Kerry over the top in Wednesday's roll call for the nomination. And Kerry and Edwards chose Cleveland as the first stop when they began campaigning jointly three weeks ago — attention Edwards said was intentional to show Ohio's importance.
To New Mexico delegates, Edwards said, "We know a handful of voters here and there can make an enormous difference." Democrat Al Gore won New Mexico by fewer than 500 votes in 2000, and recent polls show it is a toss-up.
Edwards told the various delegations that Kerry's convention-closing speech would "speak to the nation in a way that lifts us up."
But beyond the cheering, "We have such a lot of work to do. We've got to get out folks out to the polls. We've got to organize," he said. "What American voters are hungering for is some sign that things are going to get better."
Later Thursday, it was Edwards' turn to be formally nominated. Unlike the lengthy roll call of states that proclaimed Kerry the presidential nominee the night before, a North Carolina delegate simply placed Edwards' name into nomination. Delegates yelled in unison "Aye" and cheered, approving the nomination by acclamation. Edwards accepted the nomination through New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the convention chair.
While revving up the Democratic base, both Kerry and Edwards are trying to use their convention exposure to reach out to moderate Republicans, independents and other potential swing voters in what both parties agree could be an extremely close election.
Edwards said he hadn't gotten much sleep after his own speech. His two smaller kids — Emma Claire, 6, and Jack, 4 — were promised "if they behaved, they could sleep in bed with us."
"Not a good plan," he said. "It made for a very long night."
Even so, he said, "I'm still energized and excited."
In his convention speech, Edwards portrayed Kerry as a war hero able to make the United States "stronger at home and respected in the world."
Edwards also said Kerry shared his own vision that there must be "one America," a reprise on his own theme in last winter's primaries that there were "two Americas," one for the rich and powerful and one for everybody else. He led the convention in a chant: "Hope is on the way."
The candidate at one point found his party sharing a hotel freight elevator with a group of reporters and photographers. Edwards' aides and security officials ordered the news media to the very back of the elevator, establishing a buffer zone between the two groups.
Edwards joked with reporters that, not only were there two Americas, but there also seemed to be "two elevators" within one. "The question is: Which one is better?" he said.
As to his convention speech the night before, Edwards said: "I feel good about it. I had a good time."
Meanwhile, the Bush re-election campaign distributed a statement by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, taking issue with Edwards' speech.
"Senator Edwards said many times in his speech that hope is on the way. He needs to look around: hope is already here," Cornyn said. "The consumer confidence index is at a two-year high, the economy is roaring back after the economic shock of 9/11, and people are investing in education, homes and small businesses. A political platform of pessimism is wildly out of touch."