Michelle Obama Stresses Barack's American Values
Read transcripts and hear the audio from some of Monday night's key speeches:
Edward Kennedy's Speech
Michelle Obama painted an intimate portrait of her husband, Barack Obama, as a father and family man with faith in the American dream Monday night.
Her comments came during a prime-time speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver aimed at reassuring voters that her husband shares the values of ordinary Americans and is ready to lead the nation.
Michelle said that she and Barack believed "that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond, and you do what you say you're going to do, that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don't know them, and even if you don't agree with them."
She described her own blue-collar upbringing in Chicago and how hard her parents worked to raise a family. And she emphasized that though her husband had "grown up all the way across the continent," he had a similar life and the same values.
She told the cheering delegates that her husband would be "an extraordinary president." "Barack will finally bring the change we need," she said.
Dismissing questions about her patriotism, Obama said, "I love this country" — a rebuttal to criticism after remarks earlier this year when she said she felt proud of America for the first time.
After the speech, the Obamas' two daughters joined their mother on the podium, and Barack Obama appeared via satellite from Kansas City.
"How about Michelle Obama?" he asked the crowd. "Now you know why I asked her out so many times, even though she said no. You want a persistent president." The girls responded to their father on the giant screen with "Hi, Daddy!" and "I love you, Daddy."
Kennedy Stirs Party Faithful
Earlier in the night, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, 76, battling a malignant brain tumor, nonetheless appeared hearty and robust in an unscheduled appearance. He told delegates, many of whom waved Kennedy signs above their heads, that "The work begins anew, the hope rises again and the dream lives on," a reprise of a famous speech he delivered at the Democrats' 1980 convention.
"I have come here tonight to stand with you, to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and to elect Barack Obama president of the United States," Kennedy said.
He also pledged to be back in the U.S. Senate come January, when Democrats hope Obama will be inaugurated president.
McCain A Target
The convention formally began earlier in the day, and speakers wasted no time in attacking the presumptive Republican nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Texas Rep. Silvestre Reyes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told delegates that "America cannot afford a third Bush-Cheney term, which is what a McCain presidency would be."
Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said America needs "a leader who can heal the wounds of the last eight years, a leader who knows that what unites us is greater than what divides us."
Still, the continuing squabbles between the Obama campaign and supporters of the rival he narrowly defeated, Hillary Clinton, threatened to reopen wounds in the Democratic Party.
Grumbling Among Clinton Backers
The convention got under way as polls show many supporters of Clinton still unsure about throwing their support behind Obama. In a news conference earlier in the day, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, the convention co-chair, admonished reporters for focusing on the conflict between the Obama campaign and Clinton supporters.
"This is like a yesterday room," Pelosi said. "The nomination is decided. We have a vice president. We will work together to go forward. Every convention has its areas of disagreement. To stay wallowing in all of this is not productive."
One remaining issue to be settled is Wednesday night's scheduled roll call of the states. Pelosi said she was against suggestions that it be called off in order to avoid a raucous pro-Clinton demonstration the night before Obama is to accept the party's nomination.
The Obama campaign was reportedly considering allowing the roll call to proceed, but ending it after the New York delegation announced its count. That would presumably allow the "catharsis" that Clinton says her supporters deserve, yet reinforce the fact that this is Obama's convention.
The dispute over Clinton's supporters threatened to detract from the message that Democrats hope to project to voters over the next four days: that of a unified party eager to point out the differences between Obama and McCain.
Many in the long roster of Democratic convention speakers pointed to the nation's economic woes, as reflected in high energy prices and a housing crisis.
"President Bush has run our economy into the ground," asserted New York Rep. Jose Serrano. "Our families cannot afford four more years of stagnation and failure."
Delegates adopted the party's 2008 platform in one of the convention's first official acts. It calls for ending the war in Iraq responsibly; immigration reform that is both "tough" and "humane"; and planks on faith and fatherhood, a favorite theme of Obama's.
McCain Defends Homes
Meanwhile, McCain, who accepts the Republican presidential nomination next week, was not willing to cede the spotlight to Obama entirely. In an appearance on NBC's Tonight Show, McCain defended himself from criticism that he did not know how many homes his family owns.
McCain, harking back to his time as a POW in Vietnam, told host Jay Leno that during the 5 1/2 years he spent in a prison cell, "I didn't have a house, I didn't have a kitchen table, I didn't have a table, I didn't have a chair." He added, "I spent those 5 1/2 years ... not because I wanted to get a house when I got out."