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Last Updated: Friday, 30 July, 2004, 05:29 GMT 06:29 UK
Weblog: Democratic convention
As tens of thousands of Democrats pack their bags after cheering on John Kerry and John Edwards at the convention in Boston, BBC News Online's Kevin Anderson delivers a personal view of events in his weblog.

Come back to this page for regular updates.

30 JULY :: BOSTON 0109 (0509 GMT)

In the past, the big tent of Democratic politics has been prone to infighting, but if this convention has demonstrated anything, it is that this party is unified.

Kerry signs
As the bloggers say, the party is ready to fight for Kerry tooth and nail
The party still will have its differences. In most years, the war in Iraq would have been enough to cause irreconcilable differences.

But this year is different. Just listen to the applause lines during John Kerry's acceptance speech and you hear a party unified against the Bush administration.

John Kerry promised that he would have a vice president who would "not conduct secret meetings with polluters to rewrite our environmental laws," would have a secretary of defence "who will listen to the best advice of our military leaders, and would appoint "an attorney general who actually upholds the Constitution of the United States."

The crowd went wild and broke into chants of "Ker-ry, Ker-ry, Ker-ry".

They love it here. This is a party who will go out and fight tooth and nail for this man.
Blogger Nate knows Nada
I heard it before the convention and from several Democratic Party activists during the convention, this is the most unified that they have seen the party ever.

As blogger Nate knows Nada said, "They love it here. This is a party who will go out and fight tooth and nail for this man."

That is not take away from the speech that John Kerry made. Instead of pulling punches, he went straight at the Republicans: On national security, on values, on criticisms of him as inconsistent and pessimistic.

And when John Kerry said that would restore trust and credibility to the White House, this was a challenge to George Bush's theme four years ago to restore honesty and integrity to the White House.

The Burnt Orange Report bloggers from Texas said, "Kerry's acceptance speech - out of the park! Natural but idealistic, easy-going but serious, small and big. You gotta believe!"

Before the convention, number crunchers say that campaigns about a seven point bounce in post-convention polls.

That's the number that the Kerry campaign will be judged by.

The bloggers are already pointing out that the Zogby poll showed a 6-point bounce for John Kerry even before the speech.

Bright new stars

The Democrats put together a good convention, and the party showed something I didn't see four years ago in 2000: They've got a deep bench.

That's an American sports reference, which means not only is their starting team good but they've got some super subs, some great people waiting in the wings to take over.

Drowing in a sea of balloons
The Democrats hope to party all the way to the White House
John Edwards and Barack Obama both have a bright future, and Barack Obama not only delivered a show-stopping speech but laid out some interesting ideas that might move the debate forward a little.

Politics is like popular music. It gets stale and needs new blood to keep it going.

In the two party politics of America, the parties sometimes fight each other into a protracted stalemate, shouting slogans back in forth about yesterday's battles.

It feels like that sometimes these days.

Maybe that's why the nation is so divided and politics so many times devolves into a shouting match, where the power of ones lungs trumps the power of ones ideas. (Or maybe I just haven't slept enough in the last four days.)

Thanks Boston for putting up with us and being extremely gracious hosts. You've got a great city.

Thanks to Gena for trading a couple of BBC hats for a collector's box of Mac 'n Cheese, and thanks Alan for drowning us in balloons.

See you in New York!

29 JULY :: BOSTON 2034 (0034 GMT 30 JULY)

Alan Collier used to work in insurance for Norwich Union, but tonight, he is worried whether 100,000 balloons will fall on cue at the end of John Kerry's acceptance speech.

He is in charge of the balloon drop and oversaw the positioning of 40 100-foot nets and 40 40-foot nets full of balloons high above the convention floor.

Alan Collier
Alan Collier: Sweating on the success of the big balloon drop

It took a week to prepare the nets, he added. They began setting up inside the FleetCenter on the Monday before the convention.

The nets hung all the way from the ninth floor to the seats just above the convention floor, he said.

They were floated up to the ninth floor and are held in place by 170-pound break test line because they had to be in place for a week.

Twenty crews of three people each filled the nets. One person would inflate the balloons, and the other two people would tie them, he said.

Three additional crews worked to inflate large three foot (1 metre) balloons, he said.

"We had 70 staff on the ninth floor inflating the balloons for two days," he said.

Tonight there are six people on the catwalk "purely to do confetti", and there will be another 20 people on the catwalks to pull the 100-pound test line that will open the nets.

But that is not all. There is a canopy above the stage. "Mr Kerry would not get balloons at all," he said if it weren't for three "hurricane fans" that will blow balloons from 40 foot bags on either side of the stage toward John Kerry and his family.

And just for added effect, two confetti canons will fire on either side of the stage.

It's only a few hours now until we see if all of Alan's preparations come off without a hitch!

The team needed 20 pairs of scissors to cut the lines and release the balloons. For security purposes, the Secret Service has had them locked up all week.

Now, just hours before the drop, the Secret Service is escorting the scissors up to catwalks high above the convention floor.

29 JULY :: BOSTON 2004 (0004 GMT 30 JULY)

Delegate Barry Ladendorf of California had more than a few words of criticism for the US broadcast television networks and their decision to show only one hour of coverage per night of the Democratic National Conventions.

They did have plans to provide more extensive coverage on the internet, and the cable news networks planned extensive coverage.

As far as buttons go, I want this one

But the broadcast networks sharply curtailed their coverage this year, and coverage has highlighted the tightly scripted nature of the convention.

The joke has been that it's become a crime to commit news.

But Barry was incredulous that networks were providing so little coverage.

"It is a disgrace for the networks not to cover this," he said.

"This is one of the most important elections in my lifetime. What are they going to run? Reruns?" he asked Democratic blogger Brad Johnson.

Brad was wirelessly blogging from outside the convention floor as delegates and Democratic activists were crowding into the FleetCentre in the lead up to John Kerry's speech.

As far as buttons go, I want the one that Brad has. "Kiss me, I'm a Blogger!"

29 JULY :: BOSTON 1515 (1915 GMT)

Banners, hats, buttons (including some with flashing lights). The delegates, Democratic Party activists and even members of the media are walking political billboards.

Their shirts are weighed down with buttons. Their hats festooned with them, any piece of available real estate that can be pierced with a pin.

Larissa Shimkaveg was hanging them from her convention credentials. "I've got some more if you want to see them. I just ran out of room," she told me.

She was proudly wearing a button, "Friends don't let friends vote Republican."

She's here covering the convention for her school newspaper in Florida, and wouldn't you know, she too has a blog.

Unfortunately, she isn't posting until she gets back from the convention.

Send us your impressions of the convention Larissa.

29 JULY :: BOSTON 1258 (1658 GMT)

On most weekdays, Sam Maione's Capitol Coffee House in Boston does a brisk business, being strategically located across the street from the Massachusetts state house.

Small restaurant owner Sam Maione
Sam Maoine says the convention hurt Boston's small businesses
But this week, business at this classic American coffee and sandwich shop is down 35% he says.

Although the government offices are officially open, he estimates that most offices are running with a skeleton crew.

"Some people made a lot of money, but small businesses, we are losing money," he said.

Most of his customers this morning are the scores of police patrolling the state house.

Sam says that he has not heard from other businesses, but he added: "You don't have to talk to people. The street is empty."

Many residents fearing gridlock and chaos due to road closures booked their holidays to coincide with the conventions.

Those who stayed say the city is refreshingly quiet. Their only fear is that visitors will think that Boston is a sleepy town that "rolls up the sidewalks" by late afternoon.

Businesses were optimistic that the convention would help their bottom line, but when shop and restaurants heard about the tight security and road closures, they knew the convention was going to be a bust not a boom.

Especially hard hit have been the restaurants in the North End neighbourhood right next to the site of the convention.

Security barricades ring the neighbourhood, and during prime time, all of the delegates are in the FleetCenter, not eating out, he said.

"The restaurants are dead," he said.

And he said with free drinks and food at after convention parties, "How can I expect them to spend their money?"

"Thank God, it's only four days," he said. "Tomorrow, this is over"

28 JULY :: BOSTON 2156 (0256 GMT)

You decide. I report. Looking at your comments, there was a lot of interest in the "free speech zone", "protest pen", whatever you want to call it.

Protesters dressed as detainees demonstrate against free speech curbs
Protesters believe the "free speech zone" is too restrictive
When I arrived late in the afternoon, there was no protest, just random teens doing foul-mouthed free association at a microphone set up for the protesters.

The signal to noise ratio was pretty low. Lots of noise but no discernible message.

But after a short while, a group of about 50 protesters lined up outside of the free speech zone.

Most of the protesters were dressed in orange jumpsuits like Guantanamo detainees, holding signs about issues they felt were getting drowned out by curbs on free speech, such as the environment and the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Some had gags and others were hooded. After listing their issues, they marched into the "protest pen".

Steve Iskovitz of Boston was one of the protesters. What did he find upsetting about the free speech zone?

"For one thing, look at how few people are in here," he said.

"There could be a number of reasons for this, but one of them is no one wants to come in here. It looks like a jail," he added.

The protesters see little difference between the Democrats and Republicans, Steve said. He plans to vote for Green Party candidate David Cobb in November.

The police had expected thousands of protesters but have seen only hundreds, an officer on the scene said.

The officer attributed it to the overwhelming police presence. There are some 5,000 police officers of various stripes patrolling Boston.

Street theatre

Just as the protest was breaking up, it took a surreal turn. Comedian Robert Smigel - better known by his hand puppet Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog - showed up.

Triumph mocks celebrity guests regularly on a late night comedy show in the US and has appeared on the MTV movie awards.

Triumph is best known by his catch phrase "for me to poop on". For instance, on his website, Triumph says, "Get a website that you would like for me to poop on."

Vets Against Kerry protest
Just as one protest wound down another began
Triumph began interviewing the protesters, which attracted a lot of attention from the media and from curious celebrity watchers.

The media and snapper scrum kept me out of earshot, but one has to wonder if Triumph was saying, "You've got a great cause for me to poop on."

Just as that media circus was winding down, the chant of "Kerry! Commander in Chief! No way!" went up.

From down the street and on the other end of the political spectrum, it was Vietnam Veterans against Kerry.

The protesters and Triumph became last minute's news as shouting matches broke out between John Kerry supporters and the Vets against Kerry.

So, during my brief visit to the free speech zone, the speech was flowing most freely.

28 JULY :: BOSTON 1423 (1823 GMT)

It looks like one of the non-descript office buildings just blocks from the site of the Democratic Party's convention.

Member of the Republican  response team
Republican staffers follow the convention intently
But the gaggle of a dozen protesters and counter-protesters outside every morning tips you off to the location of the Republican rapid response team, who hold a daily press conference in a rented office on the fifth floor.

A plumbers' union promises to plug the leaks in Washington and hands out a flier about information the White House has leaked to destroy political opponents.

Republican operatives hand out fake $1m bills from the United States of George Soros bound by a label that reads "Democrat Special Interest Cash".

"There sure are a lot of them out there," said a man of the protesters as he entered the building.

The Republican press officer at the door says in reference to the trade union protesters, "Yeah, they get paid by the hour."

Kerry picture against a Bush-Cheney poster
Kerry pictures adorn the response team offices
In the makeshift offices, some 30 Republican Party and Bush-Cheney campaign staffers huddle over computer screens in rooms with multiple televisions at the ready to respond to Democratic attacks and talking points.

The walls are plastered with unflattering pictures of John Kerry in a "blue bunny suit" and headlines proclaiming him more liberal than Ted Kennedy.

Relentlessly on message

"The general idea is that this convention in Boston is little more than an extreme makeover of John Kerry's 19-year Senate record," said Scott Hogenson, who heads up the radio and online part of operation.

The "extreme makeover" line is a reference to one of the several reality shows where a woman (and sometimes a man) is nipped, tucked and botoxed from frumpy to fabulous.

Scott says that when the Democrats are not attacking President Bush in some of the "harshest language possible - saying you have to be afraid of him, calling him a fascist - they are trying to portray John Kerry as a moderate".

Press pass to get into the republican research area
The spin machines are in full swing
The Republicans are as relentlessly on message as the Democrats, and they say they are not merely trying to paint Kerry with the damning political L-word, liberal.

"We're all about the issues," Scott said, adding, "and that's not just spin. When we make it about the issues, we win."

Their issues - lower taxes, individual responsibility and a strong defence.

But this is definitely not a spin-free zone. These are agile political pugilists.

Ask Scott whether Vice-President Cheney is a liability to the Republican ticket and about his ties to Halliburton, and he quickly turns the conversation to no-bid contracts for reconstruction in the Balkans during the Clinton administration.

And today, their aim is to hang John Kerry by his own words on Iraq, portraying him as a flip-flopper who made strong statements against Saddam Hussein until he saw Howard Dean gaining traction with anti-war protesters.

I'm off to the "free speech zone" this afternoon seeing as many of you have commented on it.

27 JULY :: BOSTON 2322 (0422 GMT)

US Senate candidate Barack Obama
Barack Obama: America's first black president?
I grew up west of Chicago, and I wanted to see firsthand the rising political star from my home state, Barack Obama, who is running for the US Senate.

Before the convention, the buzz around him was unbelievable.

After listening to him, I'm going to make a bold prediction that he will be the first black president of the US.

Of course, Democratic super-strategist and Kerry right-hand man Bob Shrum has made that prediction as well, so maybe I'm not going that far out on a limb.

And the convention bloggers all predicted great things from this son of a man from Kenya and a woman from Kansas.

Mathew Gross writes: "He'll be back, we know it; we haven't seen the last of him. Magic is within his grasp."

And you can see how his speech affected Democrats. Sargent Ripper posted to Matthew's blog: "I heard it. I wept. It's what a lifetime of being a democrat is about."

Over at Electablog, Dave Pell said, "Let's put it this way. I almost expected the guy to complete his speech by saying 'And I accept your nomination...' He rocked the house."

Two Americas

You know that the Democratic Party has big plans for him, and the party faithful loved him in the hall.

He started slow, but by the end, he had the crowd in his hand. They were so frenzied I could barely hear him up in the cheap seats.

Woman cries during Barack Obama's speech
He brought people to tears - he was that good
When he said, "If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties," the entire hall erupted.

And the crowd ate up his calls for unity in diversity.

"Even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America," he said to thundering applause.

But in my travels on the campaign trail, I'll steal one of John Edwards' signature lines. There are two Americas, but not John Edwards' haves and have-nots.

And as I heard a pundit say in New Hampshire during the primary elections, these two Americas don't talk to each other, they talk past each other. There is no common ground.

Barack Obama has a bright political future that much is clear.

But it will be interesting to see if he, or any other political figure, can get conservative and liberal America on speaking terms again.

Read more: (External websites)

27 JULY :: BOSTON 1600 (2000 GMT)

Bill Clinton showed on the first night of the Democratic convention that he will be the party's star for long after he has left office.

Howard Dean addresses a rally
Howard Dean can still whip a crowd into a frenzy
He's the only person in American politics who can send shivers up the spine of average voters when wonking out about small business development.

Just cast an ear towards the blogosphere and listen to them gush.

Katherine posted a comment on Pandagon.net, "First time [Bill Clinton] ever made me tear up."

Another Pandagon.net poster, slapshot57, wrote: "Seriously, it had me jumping up and applauding. Clinton is the master of subtle digs. You keep hearing the good things he says, then you realize 'hey, that means that other guy's a jerk'."

People-powered Howard

Although he doesn't enjoy as broad an appeal as Bill Clinton, Howard Dean can still whip a crowd into frenzy.

Ahead of his prime time appearance at the convention, he spoke to an overflow crowd at a Take Back America rally across the river from the FleetCenter, site of the convention.

The Democratic Party has designated the FleetCenter a smiling, happy people zone so Howard Dean's prime time speech will most likely be Bush-bashing light.

But at this event, he said he was letting himself have a little more fun than he would be allowed at the convention.

"We're going to spend the next three months blaming George Bush for everything that is wrong in this country," he told the cheering crowd.

"And we'd be 98% right," he added. But Democrats who didn't stand up to President Bush and those who don't vote also share some of the blame.

Since the Dean scream was played 937 times on TV and radio (his estimate from the bloggers breakfast on Monday) and he dropped out of the race, Howard Dean has dedicated himself to taking back the political debate from conservatives.

The party needs to focus on jobs, affordable healthcare for all and a "national security policy consistent with American morality and values," he said.

And the promise of his plan "is that sooner or later those people who vote for guns, god and against gays will start voting for better education and healthcare," he said.

Read more: (External websites)

27 JULY :: BOSTON 1156 (1556 GMT)

Ah, the Democratic Convention takes me back to the heady days of the dot.com boom. Why? Schwag, or free promotional goodies.

Special convention edition of Mac n' Cheese
A special convention edition of Mac n' Cheese has been produced
During the tech bubble, dot.com companies, with more money than sense, handed it out by the armful.

All that went away with the crash, but thankfully the political gravy train is still alive and well.

The delegates are overwhelmed with schwag bags and so are the media. The weekend before the convention, we all got bags with everything from shaving razors to a guide to used car prices.

Remember, schwag is about self-promotion, not utility.

I passed because 90% of the stuff would have gone straight from schwag bag to recycling bin. But I regret that decision.

Again, you ask: why? The special convention edition of Macaroni and Cheese with a hipster version of the Democratic Party's donkey on the front.

Maybe I can trade a BBC baseball cap for a box of the convention edition of Mac 'n' Cheese.

Read more: (External websites)

26 JULY :: BOSTON 2140 (0240 GMT)

Axis of Eve workers selling protest panties
The Axis of Eve mission: Expose and depose
A coalition of protesters gathered on the eve of the Democratic convention to demonstrate against the war in Iraq, US policy in the Middle East and in Haiti and the Republican and Democratic parties.

This is not amazing. Anti-war, anti-globalisation protesters have become a permanent fixture at financial and political gatherings in the US and around the world since the now famous Battle in Seattle at the WTO meetings in 1999.

What was amazing was the amount of money being made exploiting anti-Bush, anti-conservative animosity.

I guess these budding entrepreneurs weren't part of the Socialist Workers Party contingent at the protests.

Workers of the world unite, and buy our stuff

A CBS News crew bought a pair FauxNews t-shirts, obviously enjoying mocking their competitors FoxNews.

Across the sidewalk was a group selling t-shirts with pictures of George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld with the heading Asses of Evil.

Hawking a t-shirt critical of the Bush administration
Protesting for profits at the Democratic National Convention
George W Bush's famous Axis of Evil was a favourite target of the entrepreneurial protesters.

Just down the way was the Axis of Eve, selling knickers with slyly subversive and overtly sexual remixes of many of the Bush administrations most famous tag lines.

My personal favourite? A hot pair of shorts with "weapon of mass seduction" printed on the front.

Their website says: "We Eves are gearing up for a shameless summer of panty-flashing to lay bare the shameful tactics of the Bush administration and boldly demand an end to political cover-up."

But the Eves aren't in just for a naked profit motive.

No, all proceeds go to their sister organisation Daughters of Eve which helps fund and coordinate protest events and voter mobilisation.

26 JULY :: BOSTON 1411 (1811 GMT)

This will be the first convention covered by bloggers, those opinionated cyber-diarists who have renewed the internet's promise of self-publishing.

Bloggers blogging at the bloggers breakfast
Bloggers blog at the bloggers breakfast

To celebrate, the Democratic Party threw them a breakfast.

"Do you have Wi-Fi?" one of the bloggers asked Michael Feldman who writes for DowBrigade.com.

"No, and my server is down," he answered. But he made the mistake of being the first blogger to whip out his laptop, and the traditional media pounced.

Mutual distrust

The Bloggers Breakfast was one of those surreal circular media events, where the traditional media cover someone who in turn covers the traditional media.

Howard Dean addresses bloggers
Dean said the traditional media will increasingly become irrelevant

I snapped pictures of them. They snapped pictures of me. I interviewed them. They interviewed me.

The traditional media and bloggers have a mutual distrust. Bloggers think the traditional media are tapped out, and the traditional media think bloggers are amateur pundits.

Even though I'm "blogging", Michael told me I wasn't a blogger because I was getting paid by a traditional media outlet, although he said that it was a matter of some debate in the blogging community.

The suspicion was obvious. Veteran Associated Press reporter Walter Mears will actually be blogging this convention, and one of the bloggers asked him which candidate he supported so they could take that into account when they read his blog.

'Not real journalists'

No dice, he wouldn't tell. And they didn't need to take his political affiliation into account, he said, because "I'm objective".

The hoots and laughter from the bloggers showed they were less than convinced.

And when the blogging political pioneer Howard Dean addressed the audience, he added a large helping of media mistrust to the breakfast on hand.

"If I were you, I wouldn't be insulted if someone said you weren't a real journalist," he said, because news has increasingly become entertainment, not information.

And he believes the traditional media will increasingly become irrelevant. "The net will become so ubiquitous over the next 25 years, that you will largely be able to bypass traditional media," he said.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Send us your comments in response to Kevin's weblog using the form below.

Your comments:

The Dems have no theme other than the typical political rhetoric
Fayne Moore, Crofton, Maryland, USA
After reading the comments here from the pro-Dems there's one common theme (outside of Obama) and that is the Dems have no theme other than the typical political rhetoric. This is so evident watching the convention. All Clinton did was tout his own eight years in office. The Dem ticket has no strategy on terrorism or the economy. And why is that? Because they know they can't beat Bush on fighting terrorism and the economy is growing stronger by the month with jobless claims way down and consumer confidence at a two-year high, not to mention many other positive indicators.
Fayne Moore, Crofton, Maryland, USA

I, like so many of you, thought Mr Obama's speech was outstanding. But, I think it's unwise to suggest that he should be running for president instead of John Kerry. I hope someday he will, when his years in the US Senate will have given him some needed experience and knowledge of foreign and domestic policy. Meanwhile, we have an exceptionally good candidate in Senator Kerry. Perhaps he doesn't come across as well, but for those of us who grew up blue collar in Massachusetts, he was a champion. I've been a fan of his for over 20 years now. I don't need to be electrified by him. I know what he can do and I'm so confident that everything will be just fine if he's elected.
Cynthia, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Obama, Teresa, Clinton, all of them have been exhilarating!
Stephanie, Miami, FL, USA
Nobody has mentioned the speech by Al Sharpton. He really got me going! I loved the direct language to Bush. Obama, Teresa, Clinton, all of them have been exhilarating!
Stephanie, Miami, FL, USA

I was randomly flipping through channels and came upon Barack Obama giving his speech. Watching and listening to him, my first thought was "I wouldn't mind voting Democrat if he were running." I'm not a Democrat or a Republican. I despise the fact that our country has been forced to choose between only those two 'parties', while the other parties are given little to no coverage at all. Americans believe they're only able to vote for Republican or Democrat, otherwise, they believe their vote is wasted. Which is horrible, in my opinion. However, Barack Obama's speech was amazing. His presence was astounding and his words just left me staring. I would vote for him. Too bad he's not running in this presidential election.
Jennifer, Denver, CO, USA

As a connoisseur of irony I could scarcely stifle a laugh when I heard John Edwards say in his speech: "We will unite America...we will modernise our armed forces to protect America....we will get Nato to help (the US) in Iraq....we will change the divisions based on class, wealth and race." This is nothing if not amusing, from a ticket led by an upper class, very wealthy, white man.
Nick Probett, Brusells, Belgium

We are very impressed with the Democratic Convention. Obama was electrifying. President Clinton was inspiring. President Carter on target. President Bush has nothing to offer but fear. Fear of him is one of our main fears. We are very happy with our future President John Kerry.
Susan Hershberger, Phoenix, AZ, USA

Kerry and Edwards are too left wing for America
Justin, Long Beach, CA, USA
Kerry and Edwards are too left wing for America. This convention will do little to recast them as middle of the road politicians. America is not stupid! Edwards and Kerry belong in European politics, not our beloved American system.
Justin, Long Beach, CA, USA

To Justin, Long Beach, CA, USA: By what bizarre standard are Kerry and Edwards "left-wing?" Your political barometer is so far off it's scary. You say "America is not stupid". Well, if Bush is re-elected, I'm afraid you might be wrong about that. I'm sure Americans will choose the moderation of Kerry/Edwards over the extremism of Bush/Cheney. Your "beloved American system" has dragged the country only into debt, disgrace and unprecedented danger over the past three and a half years. I'm as American as you are, and I oppose the politics of the Bush administration.
Dean, Boston, USA

I totally agree with the praise for Barack Obama. He is remarkable. But, can we give the man a little time? He hasn't even been elected to the Senate yet and we're already seeing him in the White House. I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves. How do we know he even wants to be President?
Shawn, Washington, DC, USA

I agree wholeheartedly with all the laudatory comments about Obama's speech - what a unifying moving, captivating, and inspiring message! Yes, if every voting American could have seen that speech last night, Bush could stay in Crawford and Kerry could retire - America has found a man to lead us out of this mess!
Kent Earnest, Dayton, OH

It is so good to hear sense on the political platform again! Obama, Heinz-Kerry and Clinton made speeches that resonate with many of us informed, hard-working, decent people who have no sympathy for the military-industrial complex, profiteering machine. It is refreshing once more to hear a message of hope, given so elegantly and clearly by Obama, and I hope that the tide is finally turning.
Clare, Baltimore, USA

Last night was the first time I had ever heard or seen Teresa Heinz Kerry speak. She knocked my socks off! Her life choices and her accomplishments are inspirational. She also resonates warmth, compassion, and intelligence. She presents a dynamic, compelling vision of what it means to be 64 years old and a woman, one this country and the world at large desperately needs.
Julie Geiger, Everest, KS, USA

I watched a little of the convention tonight, what a joke! The Democrats are trying to play themselves off as the poor, working class candidates. The truth is that John Kerry and John Edwards is the richest presidential ticket in our long history.
Dale, Houston, Texas, USA

So sad that the execution of a political democratic process requires the city to be turned into an Orwellian police state
B Lachance, Boston, MA, USA
Ironically enough the DNC's "security requirements" have turned Boston into an armed camp of hundreds of body armour wearing swat teams and MPs. So sad that the execution of a political democratic process requires the city to be turned into an Orwellian police state.
B Lachance, Boston, MA, USA

I agree with what many have said about how amazing Obama's speech was, but I also agree with Kevin that it will be difficult even for someone as compelling as Obama to transcend the "crossfire" political culture of screaming past each other. For example moments after Obama's speech Bill O'Reilly and Michael Moore clashed in a scream-off that did nothing to further any debate, just further polarising people.
Mike, Kansas City, USA

I agree with the prediction about Obama becoming president of the US. It's seldom that I stop to give a politician's speech the time of day, but he halted me in my tracks. I hope he has the success he appears to deserve.
Claire, Portland, Oregon, USA

When will "independent" US media outlets realise that devoting air time to meaningless storylines (ie. the Heinz-Kerry "shove it" remark, or her husband's cosmonaut photo shoot) shadows the issues voters should and do truly care about?
Ian, Fresno, California, USA

I felt a surge of energy listening to John Edwards' speech
Tetsuyo, Los Angeles, USA
John Edwards was really good last night. I felt a surge of energy listening to his speech. Much the same as that felt while listening to Obama yesterday. The Democrats should take back the White House in November. I just cannot see the Republicans coming up with a better plan for America than what I am seeing at this Democratic convention. Oh! A big hand to Teresa Heinz Kerry, also. She was elegant and reminded me of Jackie O.
Tetsuyo, Los Angeles, USA

Although I am not American, I keep watching the Democratic Convention coverage, especially from the BBC. I envy you Americans, how you guys can produce such great politicians to recall and keep in mind your nationalism and values. These are the things we endeavour to have here in Indonesia every day. I think John Kerry would be the more favoured US president for the international community over Mr Bush.
Samuel Tedjasukmana, Jakarta, Indonesia

The victory of the Democrats will bring a new hope, not only for America, but for all the world.
Nikolay Kostov, New South Wales, Australia

These people are all glitter and fancy
Barbara Taylor-Agerton, Pensacola, Fl, USA
Oh my. All of these people speaking of the amazing speeches. "They are truly amazing," but remember these people are all glitter and fancy. I feel that if Kerry is Elected we are going to be in big trouble, and those of you who say we are not winning the war on terrorism, I beg to differ. We are winning and we are doing a great job. It is costing us a lot of money and the loss of innocent lives. All for a great cause - freedom, for all, not just for a chosen few.
Barbara Taylor-Agerton, Pensacola, Fl, USA

Don't listen to the Bostonians. They like to complain about every minor discomfort and blow it way out of proportion. Take it from me. I was born and raised in Boston. This convention has been a blast, and the crowd that it has brought in has been the most positive and diverse group to assemble here in a very long time. It feels good to be a part of it.
Jennifer Thomson, Boston, MA, USA

Can't we choose Obama instead of Kerry on Thursday? Please?
Richard, LA, United States

I am 55. I cannot recall having been more electrified by a speaker as I was by Obama. I experienced chills, energy, passion, indignation, anger, and compassion. He touched on subjects I had not considered. He provided real food for thought. When he described our country as the United States of America, I was proud - for the first time in years. Oh, to be able to sustain this pride and passion.
Terry Morgan, Boca Raton, USA

I read the BBC regularly to get a different slant on the news. I often learn things that I wouldn't learn about elsewhere. Today it was the Axis of Eve! Thanks for the coverage! Vote Barack!
Kimberly, Chicago, IL, USA

Despite his failings, Bill Clinton is without doubt the greatest President America has ever had. He is the best politician and orator to grace the political scene. If I was an American, my vote would go to the Democrats.
Shalendra Baldeo, Sydney, Australia

Nobody personifies the Democrats' message better than Barack Obama
Tim Zarazan, Oak Park, IL, USA
The Democratic Party is the party of hope while the Republican Party is the party of fear. Nobody personifies the Democrats' message better than Barack Obama. Mr Obama reminds us of the qualities which made this country great. A nation which is dedicated to fairness and tolerance is stronger than one grounded in suspicion and selfishness.
Tim Zarazan, Oak Park, IL, USA

"Shove it." I'm amazed at the media's obsession over here with something so small and trivial. The Howard Dean scream is still being referenced and now the Heinz-Kerry comment is being replayed ad nauseum. This is a reason (according to one blog I've read) why Kerry cannot be the next president. Oh yeah good reason not to vote for him there.
Grahame (ex pat Brit), Greensboro, NC, USA

For the past six to eight years it has been the internet that has provided accurate and timely coverage of all issues. The presentations by the news readers on TV, self-styled "anchors" - whatever that means, are as cooked as jam.
John B, Windermere, USA

For those of us who work in downtown Boston, what is going on outside the convention hall is the story, and it's an altogether appalling one. News coverage has omitted mention of the streets being marshalled by hundreds of club-toting, darth vadar cops, there only to deter organised protest. Is this the state of democracy in America? What time is the curfew?
Patrick McGuire, Boston, USA

The Obama speech stopped me in my tracks, and I think you might be right about his future. I had heard about this man but I had no idea how powerful his presentation would be, it really was remarkable, and perhaps historical. Thanks for your coverage.
Gill, Kaslo, British Columbia, Canada

I also grew up in Illinois, in the northwest Chicago hinterlands, and lived there until 2001. Thus I was quite interested to hear Obama's keynote speech at the Democratic Convention. As a resident of another state now, I'm sorry that I'm no longer eligible to vote for Obama in the current Illinois Senate race. Nevertheless, my disappointment is only temporary, as I'm quite certain that in the not-too-distant future, I'll have the opportunity to vote for him - for president!
Kim Reed-Deemer, Las Vegas, USA

The Democrats have politicised the biggest issue of this campaign, which is national security
Mark, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
I am quite amazed how it has not even been three full years since the September 11 attacks; and how soon Americans have forgotten about the threat of terrorism to their country. The Democrats have politicised the biggest issue of this campaign, which is national security. Each and every one of these left wing fanatics have made a clear reference to the threat Saddam had on the western world. (Yes, even Bill Clinton). Now they are lying to the American public to gain back control of the White House, instead of contributing to the common good of 280 million Americans!
Mark, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

Mark: We Democrats have not forgotten about September 11. We remember that day like it was yesterday. What has transpired since then has brought us to realise the importance of unity, peace, understanding, and free speech. The actions of the current administration is creating more hatred. The 'war on terror' is not being won. We lose a little more every day we continue with our current policies. Thanks to Bush and the GOP for nothing.
Anthony Califano, Albany, NY, USA

I believe the shining star of America appeared tonight in Boston! Obama! I also predict he will go down in history as the first black president of these United States!
James, Clarkton, North Carolina, USA

My family and I just listened to Barack Obama - and discovered that while he was speaking, we all had the same thought: the first black president. His message reaches out to the best in people, the best in America, healing wounds of division, not creating them - this is emotional stuff, and more than just a little reminiscent of ML King Jr. Frankly, his speech was better than Clinton's and as good as anything I've seen since Ted Kennedy addressed the convention in 1980. You heard it here first: Obama elected President 2012.
John Troberg, Colville, WA, USA

Teresa Heinz Kerry did very well
Albert Richie, Utrecht, The Netherlands
I just watched the convention. Teresa Heinz Kerry did very well. But the big story has to be the speech of Barack Obama. In one word: Amazing. I saw Mr Clinton giving maybe one of his finest speeches ever on Monday. Barack Obama came very close to topping that. For a "new face" that is impressive. I think we may have been looking at a future president. He's already better than anybody who ran or is still running in this election.
Albert Richie, Utrecht, The Netherlands

I'm staying clear of the free speech area in downtown Boston. This area doesn't really qualify as a free speech area. If I demonstrated in front of the Fleet Center, where it should be allowed, I'd likely spend my summer weekend in jail. And it would be even harder to pay my rent.
Doug, Boston, USA

It's a bit confusing here. We are being "invited" to stay home or stay away. This condition of being secluded is not very comfortable, and the protesters are being kept "in the closet".
Viki, Cambridge, MA, USA

The "free speech zone" is nothing new. The Bush administration has employed this tactic all over the country. What is interesting is that it's a big deal when the Democrats use it, but when the Bush administration uses it, it's not newsworthy or commendable. Yes, boo to the "free speech zone", but don't forget to be upset in late August when protesters at the Republican National Convention will truly be imprisoned for speaking out, wherever they do it.
John Dickson, Arlington, TX, USA

If one watches the "news" in America it is nothing more than car cases, fires, actor commentary, and the like. The only real news you get is through something like NPR or the BBC or the internet. Unless of course you believe that a car case in Miami or a Focus on the Family celebration is world news. Bring on the bloggers. American media has refused to report news.
Woodrow, Colorado Springs, USA

Thanks DNC and Kerry! For nothing!
Ray Hebert, Rockland, USA
OK here's the deal. What a waste of time. This mess has caused me commuting delays, time off from work, and money. Thanks DNC and Kerry! For nothing!
Ray Hebert, Rockland, USA

After reading your blog on my daily visit to the BBC website, I saw that you did not receive the Donkey Mac and Cheese. As an attendee of the media party on Saturday, my fiancÚ and I have two boxes of this great unperishable. We would be happy to gift you with our extra, if you would like. We live in Boston, so if you are still in town, let us know if you'd like for us to meet you somewhere for the exchange. We'll take the BBC baseball cap, although not necessary.
Gena, Boston, USA

I had the opportunity to meet some of the bloggers at the Hope conference a few weeks ago. It's really great to see so many smart young people getting involved with politics. However, as I'm sure any of these bloggers will tell you, it's extremely important to our civil liberties to keep the internet open to free speech so that we have alternative media sources like these to combat the American media monopolies.
Oliver, NYC, USA

I'm a little surprised that in your discussion of the protesters, you don't mention the metal cage near the Fleet Center called a "free speech zone" - in which the speakers are imprisoned. If you like irony, I'd think it would be worth a mention.
Chris Wagner, Boston, MA, USA

I teach computers in a private school, K-eighth grade. I am looking at weblogs as an area for the seven and eighth graders to explore in class. They may have this as a part of their lives, but I am here to "teach an old teacher new ideas". I look forward to following the events.
Betty, Omaha, Nebraska, USA

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