BOSTON – A better America can be built, walls can be torn down and John Kerry (search) can help bring that image of the nation to reality, Teresa Heinz Kerry (search) said of her husband and the soon-to-be official Democratic presidential nominee.
"That, for me, is the spirit of America, the America you and I are working for in this election," Heinz Kerry said as she helped close out Day Two of the 44th Democratic National Convention (search) on Tuesday.
The speech by the woman Democrats hope becomes the next first lady capped off a night that heralded Democrats who once wanted to be president — Ted Kennedy, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt — and one rising star who may one day seek the office — keynote speaker Barack Obama.
But it was Heinz Kerry who got the coveted spot to close the night, a unique honor for the wife of the presidential candidate.
"It is the America that people all across this nation want to restore — from Iowa to California, from Florida to Michigan, from Washington state to my home state of Pennsylvania. It is the America the world wants to see, shining, hopeful, and bright once again. And that is the America that my husband John Kerry wants to lead."
Before she began her endorsement of her husband, Heinz Kerry spoke to the reputation she’s built as a woman not afraid to speak her mind on any issue.
"My name is Teresa Heinz Kerry. And by now I hope it will come as no surprise to anyone that I have something to say."
With President Bush (search) still enjoying high approval ratings in the area of national security, Heinz Kerry joined a chorus of previous convention speakers in touting her candidate’s defense and security experience.
"With John Kerry as president, we can, and we will, protect our nation's security without sacrificing our civil liberties," she said. "In short, John believes we can, and we must, lead in the world — as America, unique among nations, always should — by showing the face, not of our fears, but of our hopes."
The Democratic presidential candidate watched his wife from his suite in Philadelphia, where he was preparing his acceptance speech for Thursday night's nomination.
Offering a running commentary in hushed tones as his stepson introduced his wife, Kerry laughed at the jokes, played with his lip, nodded his head in agreement with the smart, funny and wise description of Heinz Kerry and finally concluded by clapping and saying "good for Chris."
When his wife finally came on stage, Kerry said, "She looks good," repeated the line and clapped.
Heinz Kerry also urged Americans to look at her husband as a kinder, gentler leader for an embattled nation.
"Today, the better angels of our nature are just waiting to be summoned. We only require a leader who is willing to call on them, a leader willing to draw again on the mystic chords of our national memory and remind us of all that we, as a people, everyday leaders, can do; of all that we as a nation stand for and of all the immense possibility that still lies ahead. I think I've found just the guy. I'm married to him," she said.
Reagan Touts Stem-Cell Research
"A few of you may be surprised to see someone with my last name showing up to speak at a Democratic convention," said Reagan, the son of the late President Ronald Reagan, who died last month from complications associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
"Let me assure you, I am not here to make a political speech, and the topic at hand should not-must not-have anything to do with partisanship," Reagan said.
President Reagan’s death renewed debate over the use of stem cells in researching potential cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries. The issue is political because Democrats say President Bush's decision to limit the number of embryonic stem cell lines that can be researched using federal dollars is prohibiting the science from developing.
"In a few months, we will face a choice. Yes, between two candidates and two parties, but more than that," Reagan said. "We have a chance to take a giant stride forward for the good of all humanity. We can choose between the future and the past, between reason and ignorance, between true compassion and mere ideology. This is our moment, and we must not falter.
"Whatever else you do come November 2, I urge you, please, cast a vote for embryonic stem cell research."
Barack Obama (search) gave the keynote speech. He told delegates at the FleetCenter Tuesday night that in this election, Democrats are offering the only choice Americans have to better their lives.
"Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer," said Obama, who is running unopposed for a U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald.
"That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and sacrifice, because they’ve defined his life … his values and his record affirm what is best in us."
Though he never mentioned Bush by name and he kept his message more positive than previous convention speakers, he expressed no ambiguity about who he was rooting for come November.
"There are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes," Obama said, firing a shot at Republicans. "Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America."
"Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards (search) calls on us to hope."
Many Democrats agree that Obama — with his boyish charm, good looks and fluidity of speech — has the rock-star appeal needed to inject some more "oomph" into their party.
The son of a man born and raised in Kenya, who grew up herding goats and attending school in a tin-roof shack, Obama, whose grandfather was a domestic servant, said his history isn't so unusual.
"I stand here knowing my story is part of the larger American story," Obama said.
The Return of the Dean Machine
Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (search) was introduced by the emcee as "the man who energized our party."
Dean led in the Democratic primary early this year before his campaign imploded and received an energetic welcome from party faithful Tuesday, including some who held up signs and T-shirts in support of his own bid for the presidency.
"I was hoping for a reception like this. I was just hoping that it would be on Thursday night, instead of on Tuesday night," Dean said. Thursday night is when Kerry formally accepts the Democratic nomination for president.
The crowd wouldn’t even let Dean begin his speech for several minutes after he appeared on stage, giving him an elongated ovation much like his supporters offered as Dean crisscrossed the country earlier this year. Although the primal scream heard 'round the world brought his campaign to its knees, Dean is credited with putting a much-needed spark into the Democratic Party.
"I may not be the nominee, but I can tell you this: For the next 100 days, I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure that John Kerry and John Edwards take our country back for the people who built it. Because tonight, we’re all here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."
Earlier, Senate giant Edward Kennedy (search) said he bears no ill will toward Kerry’s presidential election opponent.
In fact, he’d like to throw President Bush a "polite little tea party."
"I know just the place - right down the road at Boston Harbor," the Massachusetts senator told the 4,353 delegates and thousands of others taking part in the quadrennial coronation of the Democratic presidential candidate.
"Today, like the brave and visionary men and women before us, we are determined to change our government," Kennedy said, slamming Bush on everything from the war in Iraq and foreign policy to Social Security and Medicare.
"So much of the progress we once achieved has been turned back. So much of the goodwill America once enjoyed in the world has been lost. But we are a hopeful nation, and our values and our optimism are still burning bright," Kennedy said.
Repeating the refrain that Bush "squandered the enormous goodwill that flowed to America from across the world after September 11," the senior senator said the world is rooting for Kerry to bring the United States back into the community of nations.
"Most of the world still knows what we can be — what only we can be — and they want us to be that nation again. America must be a light to the world, and under John Kerry and John Edwards, that's what America will be," he said before exiting the stage with other members of the Kennedy clan as convention participants wildly waved signs emblazoned with one simple word: "Kennedy."
Pumping Up Kerry
Tuesday’s night’s events were a continuation of Monday’s festivities planned to pump up the candidate the Democratic Party will nominate to try to oust Bush from the White House in November.
"I say to you with complete conviction — there is no one in these United States with more courage, more judgment, more resolve, more of the knowledge and experience to hold the job of president of these United States of America," said Rep. Dick Gephardt (search) of Missouri, who tried his own unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination before dropping out early in the primary season.
Gephardt immediately went on the offensive against Bush's foreign policy, despite supporting the commander-in-chief’s actions in Iraq.
"John Kerry will take on the terrorists where they live before they can threaten us where we live and he will never pursue a go-it-alone policy in the foreign policy area that leaves America isolated from our friends and hinders the hunt for our enemies," Gephardt said.
"John Kerry and John Edwards both understand that doing right by America means accepting the moral responsibility of making America stronger, smarter, and more secure. And it means changing the way business is done in Washington," added Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (search).
The candidate himself held a rally in Philadelphia Tuesday, the last stop before he goes to Beantown to accept his party’s nomination.
"Don't you think we had an unbelievable first night?" Kerry asked supporters of the opening night of the convention. He also reminded supporters to go home and watch his wife's speech during prime time. "One thing I've learned, Pennsylvania loves Teresa Heinz Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry loves Pennsylvania," he said.
Kerry made many mentions of Philadelphia, including a reference to the movie "Rocky."
"I may not run up those steps but I'm going to deliver the knock out punch and I'm going to win," Kerry vowed.