BOSTON – Tuesday's theme at the Democratic National Convention was "John Kerry: A Lifetime of Strength and Service." FOXNews.com asked prominent convention-goers about how the Kerry-Edwards ticket will try to project a message that their strength of service is superior to that of President Bush.
Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Kansas: "John Kerry reminds me of my father, John Gilligan. I was raised in a family where my dad left college early, accelerated his education to go into World War II — he was part of that Greatest Generation. He came home and then entered public service and was involved in public service for the rest of his life.
"I think John Kerry has many of those same characteristics. He stood up and volunteered for military service at a time when it was enormously unpopular to do and then came back and had been engaged in public service, changing his community, changing his state and beginning, hopefully, to move the country forward. To me, that's a much different record of experience than the current administration has."
Rep. Jane Harmon, California: "Voters are very smart, that's been my experience in some very tough political races. They really get to know you and if they don't like you, they won't support you regardless of your level of experience. I think on the experience level — in terms of exposure to foreign policy, the war record, long public service — Kerry is enormously well qualified. Now the challenge is to make sure voters to get to know him and engage with him personally and that's why he is rolling out a lot of validators who have worked with him for a long time.
"It's a difficult thing, but I think that John Kerry is not only making it clear what his experience is — through both validators and the way he's delivering speeches to connect with voters — and I think that is an effective combination."
Celinda Lake, Democratic pollster: "I think today, in fact the whole week, is for the voters to personally get to know both John Kerry and John Edwards. And one of the strengths of their message is really their strength of public service to their communities, to people who are disadvantaged and to their country. And the veterans' rally — the people who served on the boat with John Kerry — are strong validators of his strength and of his leadership."
Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin: "I think, if you ask me, the first thing that comes to mind that sets John Kerry apart for strength of character is he volunteered for Vietnam, he showed up. Not only that, but he volunteered for the most hazardous duty you could imagine. Then he came home and said 'I have a responsibility as a citizen too to share the truth as I see it.'
"For John Edwards, it is championing the cause of the average person who has lost their voice and I've seen him in his career do it, in the Senate, but also as a young kid who in many ways experienced the American dream and is making sure everyone else has the same opportunity."
Rev. Jesse Jackson: "[Kerry] has a voting record in the Senate and service, longer than Bush served as a kind of part-time governor in Texas. You know the Texas system, it's a kind of part-time job. His military service is what lifts him above the fray. Bush has not quite accounted for his records and Kerry's records are obvious. He's a war hero. His valor while shot and bleeding, going to retrieve a fallen comrade, it's a story all by itself. So that level and service and valor puts him above the lot. No one else running has had that level of service — he has political service, he has community service and military service and it's all documented."