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The BBC's Nick Bryant
"It was Caroline Kennedy who took centre stage"
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The BBC's Paul Reynolds
"Liberal night at the Democratic convention"
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Wednesday, 16 August, 2000, 04:13 GMT 05:13 UK
Clinton passes torch to Gore
Clinton (left) and Gore, flanked by their respective wives Hillary and Tipper
Tumultuous applause for the two men and their wives
US President Bill Clinton has handed over the leadership of the Democratic Party to his chosen political heir, Vice-President Al Gore.

The symbolic passing of the torch took place at a rally in Monroe, Michigan, hours before a series of appearances at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles by party heavyweights such as Jesse Jackson and members of the Kennedy clan.

Bill Clinton worked hard to get this economy right with the American people and I'm not going to let the other side wreck it - we're going to keep the prosperity going

Al Gore
"He is the right person to be the first president of the 21st century, Al Gore," said Mr Clinton, as he introduced his deputy to cheering crowds in Monroe's main square.

In a foretaste of the speech that he will give when he formally accepts the Democrats' nomination for the presidency on Thursday, Mr Gore spoke on the themes of health, education and security for the retired.

Al Gore and Joe Lieberman
Mr Clinton gave his blessing to Al Gore and running mate Joe Lieberman
The rally also focused heavily on the robust US economy, in what correspondents say is an attempt to hitch Mr Gore's campaign to the economic boom that he may inherit, while distancing him from the scandals that have dogged the Clinton administration.

"America's done well these eight years but I say to you today, you ain't seen nothing yet," pledged Mr Gore.

The two men then went their separate ways: Mr Clinton for a holiday with his family, Mr Gore to take centre stage in Los Angeles.

Party heavyweights

Back in Los Angeles, the Democrats attempted to sustain the momentum until Mr Gore's acceptance speech by rolling out their big guns to rouse the party faithful.

Speakers included Senator Edward Kennedy and Caroline Kennedy, the brother and daughter of the assassinated president.

I know that my father's spirit lives on

Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy was making her first appearance at a Democratic convention, and her speech went out on prime time television.

"As I look out across this hall, and across this country, I know that my father's spirit lives on.

"Now it is our turn to prove that the New Frontier was not a place in time but a timeless call," she said, referring to the slogan her father used in his 1960 nomination acceptance speech.

Her uncle, Senator Kennedy, continued the New Frontier theme, saying that under the leadership of Al Gore, America might dare to dream again.

I endorse him - I'll work hard for his victory

Bill Bradley on Gore
"We have it in our power to take America to new heights...a time in which all Americans advance together."

Also speaking were the Reverend Jesse Jackson and Mr Gore's former primary challenger, Senator Bill Bradley.

Mr Jackson drew Republicans' ire by referring to their presidential team as "grizzled old veterans" who wanted to give tax breaks to the wealthy.

For his part, Mr Bradley buried the hatchet with his former rival in the primaries, saying: "It's absolutely essential that we get behind Al Gore."

Spotlight on Gore

Mr Gore is currently lagging behind his Republican rival, Texas Governor George W Bush, in the polls, and will be seeking to make a big impact at the convention when he arrives.

This speech was about Bill Clinton trying to write his own legacy, not about Al Gore's future

George W Bush
He was given a big boost on Monday when Mr Clinton bade an emotional farewell to the Democratic Party, showering Mr Gore with praise and urging voters to back him in the White House race.

The president also applauded Mr Gore, and his running mate, the Orthodox Jewish Senator Joe Lieberman, as men who could bridge the racial divide.

But Governor Bush dismissed Mr Clinton's speech as self-serving and unsupportive of his chosen heir.

"This speech was about Bill Clinton trying to write his own legacy, not about Al Gore's future," Mr Bush said.

"Instead of passing a baton to Al Gore, Bill Clinton used it to beat his own drum."

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