Former presidents, one-time rivals, military veterans and family members will help tell the story of Democrat John Kerry (search) as he prepares to accept his party's presidential nomination at the national convention in late July.

"We will use those four days in Boston to introduce to America John Kerry and John Edwards (search), talking about their backgrounds and their strengths," Democratic Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday.

The opening night of the July 26-29 convention will feature former Presidents Carter and Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

Ron Reagan (search), son of the late Republican president, will speak Tuesday night about the importance of stem cell research.

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said that it was not surprising that the son of the Republican icon will address Democrats. "I think his views have been very well known for a long time," referring to the younger Reagan's previous criticisms of the administration's position on stem cells and opposition to many of his own father's policies.

While not included in the initial announcement of speakers, Kerry's rivals in the 2004 campaign will have speaking slots at the convention, said convention Chairman Bill Richardson (search), governor of New Mexico.

"They will all speak, I don't know when, but they were in the arena and they deserve a chance to speak," Richardson said. New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will appear at the convention Monday night as part of a special segment featuring all the women senators, but she is not expected to speak, convention officials said.

The convention theme is "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World." It will highlight rising stars in the party like Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and Steve Brozak, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel running for Congress in New Jersey.

Brozak, who served in Iraq in 2003, has said he changed his party registration after displeasure with Republicans' treatment of Arizona Sen. John McCain in the South Carolina primary in 2000 and the GOP's attacks on former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple amputee Vietnam veteran whose patriotism was challenged during a bruising Senate campaign.

Edwards, Kerry's running mate, will speak Wednesday. Kerry plans to cap the four-day gathering of more than 4,300 delegates with an acceptance speech outlining his vision to improve the nation's standing at home and abroad.

Kerry's address will be led by his daughters and stepsons and some of the crewmates from his Navy swiftboat in Vietnam, who have been familiar faces on the campaign trail. He is to be introduced by Cleland.