Washington Area Speakers Take the Podium

By David Nakamura
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DENVER, Aug. 26 -- Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton made a heartfelt and rousing push for D.C. voting rights at the Democratic National Convention yesterday afternoon, vowing that the city will "keep the promise" for full representation to honor Darryl T. Dent, a soldier from the District who died in Iraq.

During a passionate three-minute address, which kicked off the second day of the convention, Norton (D-D.C.) gave voice to the city's long effort to secure at least a House vote in Congress. Although the 19,000-seat Pepsi Center was largely empty at 3:15 p.m. when Norton took the stage, an enthusiastic D.C. delegation of more than 60 turned out to cheer her on.

"District residents risked their lives in battle in Iraq and Afghanistan," Norton said, adding that the same residents have no voice in federal matters. She then mentioned Army National Guard Spec. Dent, 21, who was killed when a makeshift bomb struck his vehicle in August 2003.

Norton led off a day when the Washington region had six speakers, including Mark R. Warner, a former Virginia governor now running for Senate who delivered the keynote address. Also featured were a foursome of Marylanders: Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Benjamin L. Cardin and Reps. Chris Van Hollen and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer.

Van Hollen delivered a sharp rebuke of President Bush and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), linking their policies and saying the "beacon has dimmed" for many Americans and others abroad.

"The American people cannot afford more of the same," Van Hollen said, rallying his fellow Marylanders, who held up "Way to go, Van Hollen!" signs.

"What he was doing rather than criticizing Bush, he was comparing the difference between him and [Sen. Barack] Obama," said Maryland delegate Carolyn J.B. Howard, "and saying we do not want to see more of the same in the next election, which is what we could get if McCain wins."

Van Hollen also put out a call for the delegates to help build and maintain a robust Democratic majority in Congress. He introduced a half-dozen candidates for local offices across the country.

"We take our campaign to the whole country," Van Hollen said.

Van Hollen, who has represented a district that includes most of Montgomery County since 2002 and is considered a rising star in the party, is Democratic Congressional Campaign chairman.

Later, Hoyer, who represents Southern Maryland, joined the theme of the day, arguing that eight years under Bush had put the country on the wrong path.

"Surplus squandered; our nation's reputation tainted; jobs lost. We all know that. Even John McCain concedes that. I quote: 'We are worse off than four years ago,' " Hoyer said.

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