Democrats have launched their presidential nominating convention, portraying
their candidate Barack Obama as a man of faith and American values. Party
leaders are hoping the gathering will inspire unity and heal wounds from a
contentious primary season. VOA Correspondent Meredith Buel has details from the
convention being held in Denver, Colorado.
Democratic delegates erupted on
the floor of their convention as the candidate's wife, Michelle Obama,
Her goal on the opening night of the convention was to give
millions of Americans watching on television an opportunity to meet a family
that, for many, is largely unknown.
"I come here as a wife who loves my
husband and believes he will be an extraordinary president," she
Democrats hope Barack Obama will make history as the first
African-American president of the United States.
Michele Obama says she
and her husband come from similar working-class backgrounds and were raised with
the same values of hard work and treating people with dignity and
"Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values and
pass them on to the next generation," she said. "Because we want our children
and all children in this nation, to know that the only limit to the height of
your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard
Senator Obama is not in Denver, but made an appearance via
satellite to greet the delegates and say hello to his two daughters and
congratulate his wife on her speech.
"Now you know why I asked her out so
many times even though she said 'no,'" he said. "You want a persistent
An emotional highlight to the convention's
first night was a tribute to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy, an early Obama
supporter who was diagnosed several months ago with brain cancer.
senator is the last surviving brother of the late President John F. Kennedy and
a Democratic Party icon who has served more than four decades in the U.S.
He told the cheering delegates the time has come to pass the
torch of leadership to a new generation.
"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," he
In addition to introducing Obama, another critical task for the
Democrats is to unite their party after a marathon primary season between him
and Senator Hillary Clinton.
Polls show a significant number of Clinton
supporters, still upset that she lost the nomination and was not selected as
Obama's running mate, may vote for Republican candidate John McCain in
Senator Clinton is urging her supporters to back Obama and will
address the convention on Tuesday.
Clinton delegate Joe Ellen Litz still
has a strong emotional attachment to her candidate, but says she will vote for
Obama in the November election.
"What he can do is be, wow, open and
honest and I guess I would like to use the word sensitive to the feelings of all
of the people who supported Hillary," she said.
The Democrats will
formally nominate Obama Thursday and he is scheduled to accept during a speech
to at least 75,000 people at an outdoor sports stadium.