(Host) The Democratic National Convention opens in Boston today. For the next four days, Democrats will establish the major themes that they plan to use in this fall’s presidential campaign. VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) For the next four days, the eyes of the political world will be focused on the Fleet Center in downtown Boston as several thousand delegates gather to help shape the platform of the Democratic Party.
The convention will give valuable exposure to some up and coming stars of the Party and it provides an opportunity for long time leaders to rally the faithful around specific issues.
Former Governor Howard Dean thinks the most important function of the Convention is the chance for presidential nominee John Kerry to introduce himself to the American people.
(Dean) “If you look at the polls right now – which are essentially tied as far as I can make out – what you see is a weak incumbent president and a candidate that most people don’t know that much about. This convention is really the beginning of the kick off of John Kerry on national television, allowing people to get to know him much better than they do now. Pretty much unfiltered, too, which he’s not had an opportunity to do – so the most important thing about this convention is to get people to know John Kerry and what he’s about and what his hopes and aspirations are for the American people.”
(Kinzel) Middlebury College political science professor Eric Davis says the themes of the Convention are being chosen very carefully because they’ll provide the presidential ticket with an outline for the fall campaign.
(Davis) “Once the themes are articulated at the Convention the candidate really should keep up a consistent set of themes from the Convention in July through the general election in November, so they’ve been trying out these themes from the speaking tours they’ve been doing over the last several weeks. Kerry has obviously spent a lot of time talking with his advisors. They’re working up the Democratic platform highlighting those issues they would like to emphasize.”
(Kinzel) While most of the events of the week will be carefully choreographed, Davis says the Convention also serves as a way to energize the delegates when they return to their home states for the fall election:
(Davis) “The convention also serves as a way to mobilize the base of the party, to get people energized to work for the candidate, to maybe make a donation again – certainly talk to their friends, family, coworkers about the candidates – so there’s an important mobilization function that the convention serves just getting everybody excited about politics.”
(Kinzel) The Republicans will have a chance to highlight their core issues when they hold their national convention in New York City at the end of August.