Enquirer Washington Bureau reporter Carl Weiser and Enquirer news services contributed
Ohio party spokesman Dan Trevas passed out three pages of "talking points" to delegates that included such innovative phrases as: "Today we are proud to gavel open the 2004 Democratic National Convention." It urged delegates to stress, repeatedly, that Kerry will make the nation "stronger at home and respected in the world."
Anti-Bush group to stay in Ohio
When the sun rises in Ohio the day after the presidential election, the nation's largest anti-Bush group will still be there.
Steve Rosenthal, president of America Coming Together, said Monday the group will stay to help Democrats retake state government.
"There's a real interest by donors to keep the organization going," Rosenthal said.
The group, backed by labor and billionaire George Soros, has spent more in Ohio than in any other state. Rosenthal, who has knocked on doors in Cleveland and Columbus, jokes that he has spent so much time in Ohio he ought to be able to vote there in November.
"Without a doubt it's the epicenter of the campaign," he said.
The group has 77 paid staffers in Ohio, plus 42 workers on loan from the Service Employees International Union. On top of that are 160 canvassers, paid $8 to $10 an hour to go door-to-door soliciting votes.
While a staff that big certainly won't stay in place after Election Day, the group has compiled incredibly detailed data on Ohio precincts that will make it a powerful force in future elections. They've knocked on 1.8 million doors and talked to 570,000 Ohio voters.
The group came under attack from Republicans for hiring felons as canvassers. Rosenthal said Monday the group had fired between 10 and 25 felons.
Informal speeches hard on Bush
While the Kerry campaign is working to keep the convention speeches positive and devoid of Bush-bashing, that's harder to do among the die-hard Democrats at their informal breakfasts.
"George Bush and Dick Cheney have narrow minds, lying lips, and cold, cold hearts," shouted Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lucasville, in his morning speech to Ohio delegates.
That drew a tsk-tsk from Rep. Rob Portman, R-Terrace Park.
"It's very personal, I would say even vitriolic," Portman said in a conference call with reporters. "It's the kind of stuff that Michael Moore is spewing" in his anti-Bush documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Party split on gay marriage
Democrats are doing a delicate dance as they attempt to embrace gay rights but not necessarily gay marriage.
Nearly 42 percent of Democratic convention delegates interviewed by The Associated Press said they support gay marriage. But 21 percent are against it and about 38 percent said their feelings either didn't fit into a "for" or an "against" category or they declined to answer the question.
Draft language in the Democratic platform being considered Monday stopped short of endorsing gay marriage but supported "equal responsibilities, benefits and protections" for gay and lesbian families.
That's consistent with the stance of the party's presidential candidate, Sen. John Kerry, who opposes legal recognition of gay marriage but supports legal recognition of same-sex civil unions, which accords gay couples many of the rights of marriage.
Caucus member and New York delegate Chris Digiorgio said he was considering wearing a T-shirt with a pro-gay marriage message on it.
"We are all adults here. We can have a disagreement," he said.
Of the 4,300-plus Democratic delegates, 3.8 percent are gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Too late for Ohio party
Even though police dropped their plans to picket welcome events, it was too late for the Ohio delegation to reschedule its welcoming party, which was supposed to have been Sunday night at the Sam Adams brewery. The party was canceled earlier when the delegation pledged not to cross union picket lines. The party cost an estimated $30,000, said Dan Trevas, even though no beer steins were hoisted.
Reece helps decide access
Alicia Reece has been in Boston since Friday. She served on the credentials committee, which settles disputes over who gets to serve as a delegate or who can get access to the floor. "It's an honor for Cincinnati," she said. Her main goal: "How to get more Ohioans into the convention."
False alarms keep security busy
As the Democratic National Convention opened under extraordinary security Monday, police spent much of the day chasing false alarms.
Even an unattended baby stroller briefly became cause for alarm. Commuter rail service on the Framingham line was stopped for about an hour while hazardous materials teams boarded the train in Southboro, about 25 miles west of Boston, only to discover the stroller was empty.
Police responded to numerous reports of unattended or suspicious packages, including one in a restroom at the FleetCenter, the arena where the convention is being held. All the packages were harmless.
"Everything - knock on wood - is going as planned, and pretty quiet, actually," said Ann Roman, a spokeswoman for the Secret Service.
Signs of heightened security were evident around the city. Passengers on subways and commuter rail trains were subjected to random bag inspections, both in Boston and outlying suburbs.
The fortress-like look around the FleetCenter belied the relative quiet in the streets. At demonstrations across the city, police were nearly as abundant as protesters. A few dozen people gathered inside a fenced-in "free speech zone" near the FleetCenter, while a march through the city by a self-proclaimed anarchist group drew about 200 demonstrators.
DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION
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Text of former President Clinton's speech
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Delegates given guidance
2004 DNC Photo gallery
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