Former President Jimmy Carter emphasized his own and Sen. John Kerry's military service in his address.
The 2004 Democratic National Convention begins with featured speeches from former Vice President Al Gore and former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Four years after his run against President Bush, Gore urged Democrats to remember the power of each vote, saying that it was proved in the close 2000 election.
While Gore and other speakers largely stuck to previously announced plans that Democrats would speak on positive issues and restrain from attacking President Bush, former President Jimmy Carter lobbed several criticisms at the president, aimed at his military service and leadership.
After being introduced by his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former President Bill Clinton outlined what he called basic philosophical differences between the Republican and Democratic parties, saying President Bush's policies benefit only the wealthiest Americans and come at the expense of social programs.
In speaking of Kerry, Clinton followed the same oratorical path, highlighting distinctions between Kerry and President Bush — sometimes at his own expense. That moment came when Clinton acknowledged that while he and Bush were among those Americans seeking to avoid military service in Vietnam, Kerry volunteered to serve there.
The convention, being held in Boston, will name Kerry as the party's presidential nominee Wednesday. Hear NPR's David Welna, NPR's Robert Siegel and NPR's Frank Stasio.