Convention draws diverse crowd to L.A.

by Erin Ghere

To paint Republican diversity as a facade, the Democratic National Convention was attended by a wide range of people — black and white, gay and straight, men and women — as Vice President Al Gore accepted the party’s nomination for president.
“That was the inclusion illusion,” said the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Republican National Convention’s diverse speakers.
The Staples Center in Los Angeles filled with colorful signs Monday afternoon as the convention opened with brief speakers from around the country, many minorities and women, and drifted into the evening as rock music blared from the speakers and delegates danced on the convention floor.
The four-day display concluded last night with Gore’s acceptance speech, which was full of detailed plans for his presidency.
“I want you to know this,” Gore said Thursday night. “I’ve taken on the powerful forces. And as president, I’ll stand up to them, and I’ll stand up for you.”
A nationwide Reuters/Zogby poll released Monday said Republican candidate George W. Bush is leading Gore 43 percent to 40 percent, but Gore has tightened the gap since choosing Lieberman as his running mate.
The convention also heard from first lady Hillary Clinton — who spoke as delegates waved signs reading “Give’em Hil” — and President Clinton, former Gore opponent Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., four members of the Kennedy family and vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman.
“The next frontier isn’t just in front of us but inside of us — to overcome the differences that are still between us, to break down the barriers that remain,” Lieberman said in his acceptance speech Wednesday night.
He is the first Jewish candidate on a major party ticket.
Lieberman also chided the Republicans, saying “I’m glad the GOP has changed their rhetoric, but I wish they would also change their policies.”
The Clintons praised Gore and gains throughout the Clinton-Gore years.
“Our progress is about far more than economics,” President Clinton said. “America is more confident, hopeful and just, more secure and free, because we offered a vision and worked together to achieve it.”
As he concluded, the delegates cheered, “Thank you, Bill.”
The First Lady talked little about her Senate bid in New York, instead thanking the country for the past eight years.
“Thank you for giving me the most extraordinary opportunity to work here at home and around the world on the issues that matter most to children, families and women,” she said. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the honor and privilege of a lifetime.”
The Democrats also agreed on their party platform, which offers tax cuts to middle-class families and increased financing for public schools, as well as bolstering the social security system.
The land of 10,000 lakes
A roll call in which the states cast their votes for the party’s candidate reached Minnesota Wednesday.
As the head of the state delegation, Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton announced the state’s vote for Gore.
Announcing the state’s vote, she described Minnesota as the home of “sky-blue waters and the mighty Mississippi … his royal purpleness … large malls, big hearts and extreme weather.”
Only one of the 91 Minnesota delegates voted against Gore and for Bradley.
Recent Minnesota polls show Gore neck-and-neck with Bush.
But one of Minnesota’s loudest Democratic voices didn’t attend the conference in the traditional sense.
Rather than attending, Sen. Paul Wellstone spoke to shadow conventions outside the center, which focused on campaign finance reform.
The shadow conventions were held at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia two weeks ago as well.
Also outside were thousands of protesters on all four days, protesting Gore’s holdings in Occidental Petroleum, the influence of big business, gay rights and animal rights. More than 50 people were arrested.
Against tradition
Although the traditional Democratic platform is pro-choice, both a Roman Catholic archbishop and the video of a former Democratic governor brought an anti-abortion voice to the convention. But both were run in the afternoon when there is little television coverage.
The Los Angeles archbishop called for an end to abortion while delivering the invocation at the opening of the convention.
A video dedicated to the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr. played Wednesday, highlighting his Democratic loyalties but opposition to abortion.
Casey asked to speak at the 1992 Democratic convention but was denied.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Erin Ghere welcomes comments at [email protected].