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The BBC's Philippa Thomas in Los Angeles
"He walked on to the stage like a rock star"
 real 56k

The BBC's Paul Reynolds in Los Angeles
"This convention has to launch Mr Gore's fight back"
 real 28k

The BBC's Rob Watson in Los Angeles
"There was a hero's welcome for President Clinton - despite Monica Lewinsky"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 August, 2000, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Clinton bids Democrats farewell
Bill Clinton
Clinton said Gore would safeguard America's economic boom
US President Bill Clinton has given an emotional valedictory speech to the Democratic Party, urging Americans to elect Al Gore as his successor.

The greatest champion of ordinary Americans has always been Al Gore

Bill Clinton
Mr Clinton claimed credit for "unprecedented" American prosperity - something which he said his current vice-president would continue if elected to the White House in November.

First Lady Hillary Clinton had moments earlier lent her support too, saying Mr Gore and his vice-presidential running mate Joseph Lieberman would ensure that "no child is left behind".

Mr Gore (left) and Mr Lieberman
Gore (left) and Lieberman are lagging in the polls
Mr Clinton's live televised address was the highlight of the first day of the 43rd Democratic national convention - taking place in Los Angeles - which will formally nominate Mr Gore as the party's presidential candidate later in the week.

Outside, clashes broke out as demonstrators protesting against corporate influence in politics were dispersed by police in riot gear.

Officers moved in on horseback and fired pepper spray and rubber bullets to clear a crowd of 9,000 people after a protest concert outside the Staples Centre hall turned violent.

Balancing act

Delegates are hoping the convention will boost the vice-president's poll ratings in the run-up to the election, as Mr Gore is currently trailing George W Bush, the Republican candidate.

America's success was not a matter of chance - it was a matter of choice

Bill Clinton
"Al Gore and Joe Lieberman will keep our prosperity going by paying down the debt, investing in education and health care, moving more people from welfare to work, and in providing family tax cuts that we can afford," Mr Clinton told delegates.

"The best is yet to come - if we make the right choices in this election year."

He vigorously rejected Republican claims that US prosperity was due to American industry rather than the administration he and Mr Gore had led for the last eight years.

Mr Gore wants to gain credit for the successes of the Clinton years while avoiding any taint from the Monica Lewinsky sex and perjury scandal.

Hillary Clinton
Mrs Clinton: Running for the Senate in New York
But correspondents say Mr Clinton, who has dominated news headlines in Los Angeles since arriving in the city on Thursday, has appeared reluctant to fade gracefully into the background.

He leaves the city on Tuesday to meet Mr Gore in Monroe, Michigan, and symbolically hand over the political torch to the party's new standard-bearer.

Security beefed up

Some 20,000 delegates have gathered in Los Angeles for the week-long convention.

Security has been beefed up, with a heavy police presence along the route from the city centre to the Democrats' convention hall.

demonstrators in Los Angeles
About 1,000 protesters marched against Occidental Petroleum
Earlier on Monday, some 200 police in riot gear broke up a street sit-in by protesters angry at the operations of Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum.

Environmentalists oppose the company's plans to drill for oil on land claimed by U'wa Indians in north-east Colombia.

Mr Gore has family shares in Occidental valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Gore makeover

Mr Gore has been trying to warm up his image in America's Mid-West. He arrives in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and his acceptance speech will mark the climax of the convention on Thursday evening.

He is expected to give substance to the Democrats' claim to the presidency, contrasting their record with the alleged vagueness of Republican promises.

But, crucially, he also needs to flesh out his personal image, to project himself as a man with a history of fighting for people, correspondents say.

The polls agree in showing that Mr Gore trails Mr Bush, though they disagree about how much. One says he is behind by only three points, but another puts the Bush lead at 16 points.

A Reuters poll on Monday, however, showed Mr Gore gaining on his rival following his selection of Senator Lieberman as his running mate.

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See also:

15 Aug 00 | Americas
Picture gallery: The Democrat show
15 Aug 00 | Americas
Hillary thanks America
14 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Hollywood's Democratic love affair
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Gore facing crucial week
12 Aug 00 | Americas
Democrat Playboy venue dropped
07 Aug 00 | Election news
Gore seeks comeback formula
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Al Gore: Groomed for power
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