The Kennedys at Convention
Speakers Aim to Fire Up Democrats at Convention
Los Angeles, Aug. 15 --
Democrats turned to the legacy of John F. Kennedy on Tuesday night with hopes of
fueling enthusiasm for Al Gore's uphill battle in the coming presidential election.
Remembering the 'New Frontier'
During one high point of the evening, members of the Kennedy family stepped to the stage to invoke the former president's ideals and words that helped lead to a the party's victory 40 years ago.
JFK's only surviving child, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, spoke of the "New Frontier," a central theme in her father's 1960 acceptance speech after he received the Democratic nomination in Los Angeles.
"I know that my father spirit lives on," she said. "We are the New Frontier. And now, when many of us are doing so well, it is time once again to ask more of ourselves," she said. "Al Gore understands that we need a strong economy, but we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency."
But although she made her entrance to a song from the Broadway musical, Camelot -- an evocative reminder of her mother's romantic feelings about the short 1,000 days of the slain president's administration -- Schlossberg quickly turned to the election battle at hand.
"If we want a Supreme Court that will protect the freedoms in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights-- including the right to privacy-- that will keep our personal financial and medical information from being up for grabs-- and will guarantee our right to make our own reproductive decisions-- then it is up to us," she told the convention during what was a rare public appearance for her.
Hear Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg's entire speech.
Schlossberg then introduced Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, youngest brother of the former president, who said the nation's prosperity presented an opportunity to provide comprehensive health care to all. "Let there be no mistake about it. There is a profoundly deep difference between the Democratic and Republican nominees on this issue -- this life and death issue -- of health care for all Americans."
Hear Ted Kennedy entire speech.
Similar thoughts were echoed by a parade of speakers, who took a more partisan tone on the second day of their convention and looked to pump the crowd with fighting words.
Earlier in the day, delegates overwhelmingly approved the party's platform. The document calls for boosting education and health care funding, saving Social Security and erasing the national debt in 12 years. It also seeks to provide prescription drugs under Medicare, calls for some tax cuts, and supports abortion rights. It rejects school vouchers and the partial privatization of Social Security.
Keynote speaker, Rep. Harold Ford Jr., the youngest member of Congress, said that the party's goals and a Gore victory in November would ignite enthusiasm among the nation's youngest voters, while the Republican gains would only sour their interest in politics.
"I recognize that I stand here tonight because of the brave men and women, many no older than I am today, who fought and stood and often times sat down to create that perfect union," the 30-year-old Memphis congressman said. "But I also stand here representing a new generation."
Hear the entire speech of Rep. Harold Ford Jr.
Bill Bradley, who launched an unsuccessful presidential bid against Gore in last winter's primaries, enthusiastically threw his support to the vice president and then took jabs at rival Republican candidate George W. Bush's campaign mantra: "compassionate conservatism."
"We're not conservative with our compassion," said the former New Jersey Senator. "Our country needs a Democratic president, a Democratic Congress and more important, a Democratic conscience."
Hear Bradley's entire speech.
Rev. Jesse Jackson celebrated the ethnic, gender and economic diversity in the party and then took aim at Bush as well because the Texas governor refused to oppose South Carolina's use of the Confederate battle flag. "He stood with Jefferson Davis and chose the Confederate flag over the American flag," Jackson said. "He refused to offer leadership on hate crimes legislation and wants to give the surplus back to the richest 20 percent to buy more yachts."
Rev. Jesse Jackson at the podium
Copyright © 2000
Hear Jackson's entire speech to the convention.
'Passing of the Torch'
"Every good thing that has happened that came out of our administration in the last eight years, Al Gore was at the heart of it," Clinton said. He added that if voters want to sustain the prosperity that much of that nation has enjoyed in recent years, then Al Gore should be their choice for president in November.
Earlier today, President Clinton joined Al Gore on the campaign trail in Michigan to lavish praise on the vice president for playing a key role in the achievements of his two-term administration.
Clinton's statements followed and emotional farewell address on Monday night to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in which he recited a litany of accomplishments over his past two terms in the White House: unparalleled economic expansion, the lowest unemployment in 30 years, record-low crime, and the highest rate of homeownership in the nation's history.
"To those who say the progress of the last eight years was an accident, that we just coasted along, let's be clear," he told a cheering crowd. "America's success was not a matter of chance. It was a matter of choice."
Clinton repeated that theme at Michigan rally attended by thousands in the largely blue-collar city of Monroe outside of Detroit. The event was billed as a symbolic passing of the torch from Clinton to the vice president, who is expected to receive the Democratic Party's nomination on Wednesday in Los Angeles.
As Clinton watched on, Gore then promised to sustain the nation's robust economy, as he worked to share the benefits with those who have been left behind.
"Because of all we have accomplished we have a chance that is rare in our history, to see to it that prosperity enriches not just the few, but all working families," Gore said. Then he took a shot against Republican campaign promises: "Why would we squander these historic surpluses on tax giveaways that bust the budget and comfort the comfortable? Let's invest in health care, education, a secure retirement and middle class tax cuts."
Listen as NPR's Anthony Brooks report on the Gore-Clinton rally for All Things Considered.
Then hear All Things Considered host Linda Wetheimer talk to Washington Post Columnist E.J. and David Brooks, Senior Editor at the Weekly Standard, about the next steps in Clinton's torch-passing to Gore what Gore needs to accomplish when he addresses the delegates on Thursday.
Gore is now traveling west and expected at the downtown Staples Center on Thursday to deliver his acceptance speech at the convention's closing. Clinton returned to Washington, D.C., for his final five months in office.
Lieberman Mends Fences with Blacks
Gore's handpicked running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, arrived in Los Angeles and visited with the liberal Congressional Black Caucus to patch up concerns about past statements he has made on race and education and to affirm his support for affirmative action.
Lieberman has been criticized for supporting voucher programs that would aid students to attend private schools, which some Democrats oppose in fear that it would weaken funding from public school systems. He has also drawn fire from some blacks for making a statement that seemed to support California proposition 209 in 1996, which outlawed preferential treatment in education and employment based on race or gender.
Lieberman, who is the first Jew to run on a presidential ticket of a major political party, said his statement was misunderstood. "I have supported affirmative action, I do support affirmative action, and I will support affirmative action because history and current reality make it necessary," he said.
Hear NPR's Cheryl Corley talk with All Things Considered host Noah Adams about Lieberman's meeting on Tuesday.
Then listen as NPR's Phillip Martin reports on a the changing relationship between Jews and blacks.(7)
The speeches at the Democratic National Convention may last until nearly midnight for many of the nation's TV viewers, but in L.A. the nightly sessions are ending before 9 p.m. That gives the party plenty of time to party, and you get the feeling that's where most of the popular will is being expressed. NPR's Don Gonyea reports from inside the Conga, a popular local club that was rented out for a fundraiser for Democratic candidates.
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