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Democrats Focus on Healing Divisions

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By David S. Broder
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 27, 2004; 12:00 AM

BOSTON, July 27 -- On the second night of its national convention, the Democratic Party introduced two newcomers to the nation to set the themes that John F. Kerry hopes will help him win the White House in 2004.

Teresa Heinz Kerry made a quiet but emotionally strong case for her husband as a "fighter" who knows the human costs of war and will not "mistake stubbornness for strength."

And in his debut on the national stage, Barack Obama, who is apparently on his way to victory in the Illinois Senate race and becoming the third elected African American in that body since Reconstruction, said Kerry would heal the bitter divisions in the country and usher in "a politics of hope."

Obama, 42, electrified the convention hall Tuesday night as he said Americans must not allow partisan politics to divide the country: "I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America -- there's the United States of America."

Both Heinz Kerry, a native of Mozambique and first-generation immigrant, and Obama, the son of a Kenya-born father and a Kansan mother, used their personal histories to sketch a version of the American dream they said had been badly compromised in the four years President Bush has been in office.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.), who was first elected in 1962, shared the oratorical burden at FleetCenter with the two newcomers, but, to the surprise of many, failed to electrify the partisan audience as he had done so many times before.


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