The Essential Convention is a daily digest of The Washington Post's coverage from Boston and is published each morning of the Democratic National Convention.

Freshman North Carolina Sen. John Edwards will get a chance to present himself to the nation Wednesday night when the vice presidential candidate addresses the Democratic convention -- but if the early ratings are an indication, most Americans will miss the introduction.

Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz | wrote that "just-released Nielsen numbers show that television ratings for Monday night, despite the heavily touted Bill Clinton speech, were down 10 percent from the first night of the Democratic gathering in Los Angeles four years ago."

Staff writers Lois Romano and Dale Russakoff | offered their own introduction to Edwards in a profile of the former trial lawyer in Wednesday's Post.

Heinz Kerry's Night

In her speech Tuesday evening, Teresa Heinz Kerry, the wife of Democratic presidential nominee John F. 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,'" political correspondent David S. Broder | reported in his roundup of the day's convention proceedings.

"The candidate's wife, noted for her spontaneous and often barbed comments, did not shy away from her reputation," Broder wrote, quoting from her speech: "My right to speak my mind, to have a voice, to be what some have called 'opinionated,' is a right I deeply and profoundly cherish. My only hope is that, one day soon, women -- who have all earned the right to their opinions -- instead of being labeled opinionated, will be called smart or well-informed."

"Reliable Source" columnist Richard Leiby | reported that some conservatives are indeed celebrating Heinz Kerry's opinions -- and even "licking their chops over Democrat-bashing statements (and curses) from Teresa Heinz Kerry published yesterday in the Boston Herald, even though they come from a book published in 1975, 'The Power Lovers: An Intimate Look at Politics and Marriage' by Myra MacPherson, formerly of The Post. "

Staff writer Evelyn Nieves | wrote that Heinz Kerry's convention address "was her first opportunity to speak directly to the American public. Her introduction began with a biographical video that described her life in her own words and those of friends and family. It touched on her childhood as the daughter of a Portuguese oncologist based in East Africa; her first marriage, to Sen. H. John Heinz III (R-Pa.), of Heinz ketchup fame, who died in a plane crash in 1991; and her union with John Kerry, whom she got to know because of their mutual concerns on issues of the environment."

Tuesday Night's Other Speakers

Barack Obama, who Broder's article | said is "apparently on his way to victory in the Illinois Senate race and becoming the third elected African American in that body since Reconstruction," was the convention's rousing keynote speaker. And "the biggest ovation of the night may have gone to former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who fought bitterly with Kerry in the primaries, but Tuesday night pledged to support the man who defeated him." Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (Mass.) also addressed the delegates.

Also Noted

* "Thanks to a loophole in campaign finance laws, a presidential convention is the one place where corporations and labor unions can still spend with abandon to influence holders of high office," staff writers Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Thomas B. Edsall | wrote. "Lobbyist-paid festivities are nothing new during presidential conventions, of course. But this year they are more numerous and lavish than ever."

* Rand Beers, the former counterterrorism director in the Bush White House who is now a Kerry campaign adviser, discussed security issues with Post editors and reporters Tuesday. Staff writers Jim VandeHei and Charles Babington | reported that Beers "took issue with the way the Bush administration has defined the effort to root out Islamic terrorists." They also reported that Kerry "called for the bipartisan Sept. 11 commission to be extended by 18 months to help implement its proposed intelligence reforms and pressure the White House and Congress for fast action."

* Staff writer David Maraniss | spent time with a range of Democratic delegates, who he found were "bound by the proposition that their country, and the world, has never been more divided, and by a belief that President Bush is the reason."

* Staff writer Paul Farhi | looked behind the scenes at the preparations for the convention. "A year in the planning and production, the Democrats' big bash is unfolding with the rhythms and flourishes of a huge Broadway musical. There's a vast high-tech set built by a Hollywood designer, a production and stage crew of 450, a 15-piece orchestra, and a script that will, in two days, reach a predestined climax."

* Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino (D) may get a boost from this week's conventions, locally based Post correspondent Jonathan Finer | reported. "But on Tuesday, after two days of smooth operations throughout the city, a jovial Menino walked into an afternoon news conference humming aloud and, with a grin, said to reporters: 'I always told you I was the good guy. You just didn't believe me.'"

* Media reporter Howard Kurtz | went backstage with ABC News Now, which is offering around-the-clock political coverage "only online (to AOL, ABC News and RealNetworks subscribers), on digital television and on Sprint cell phones."

* Kurtz also reported | about the flap caused by NASA photos of Kerry "crawling out of the shuttle Discovery at Cape Canaveral, Fla.," in a protective clean suit. "Campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, asked by Fox News whether NASA's release of the photo was a dirty trick, said: 'Well, what do you think?' No photos were supposed to be taken, she said. But Kennedy Space Center spokesman Mike Rein said a video was made of Kerry 'as we have done for the last 40 years.'" He said . . . the pictures are always made public."

* Metro staff writer Tim Craig |, covering the local delegation here, tracks down the two top Democratic candidates for governor, Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. Metro staff writer Michael D. Shear |, also covering the local delegation, profiled Mame Reiley, head of the Democratic National Committee's women's caucus, a top adviser to Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and a former chief of staff to Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.).

* Style staff writer Hanna Rosin | designated Ben Affleck the convention's "house celebrity" in a profile of the ubiquitous actor. Also in the Style section, staff writer Mark Leibovich | profiled Terry McAuliffe, the tireless chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

* Staff writer Paul Farhi | visited the protest pen, the convention's officially designated "Free Speech" zone.