Liberals' Night at the Democratic National Convention

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - The Rev. Jesse Jackson urged Democrats to "stay out of the Bushes" Tuesday night - a chant taken up by cheering delegates at their national convention in Los Angeles.

"There is more with Gore," Jackson promised - more health care, more education, more wages, more freedom, he said.

Jackson made an impassioned plea for hotel maids, airport workers and other "downtrodden" working people, who - he insisted - need government help.

He said Al Gore "stood up for justice" when he chose Sen. Joe Lieberman as his running mate. "Al Gore has brought the sons and daughters of slaves and slave masters together with the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors. He raised the moral chin bar," Jackson said.

A statement issued by Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for George W. Bush, called Jackson's speech " more reason we need to change the tone in Washington."

"If Vice President Gore was serious about renouncing personal attacks and unkind words, he shouldn't have allowed his surrogates to do it for him. The American people will not support old-style, attack politics, and tonight's speech will be remembered as the type of partisanship and bitterness the country would prefer to leave behind."

Jackson was one of several liberals commanding center stage at the Staples Center to inspire the crowd - and to advance the presidential bid of Vice President Al Gore.

Sen. Bill Bradly, Gore's former rival, drew cheers for appearing,. He called his own primary-season run "a joyous journey,"and he said he had "the scars to prove it."

During the primary season, Bradley accused Gore of using "scare tactics," but now, he told delegates, "What we share is so much more than what we disagree on. We fight for the same Democratic values, and we will fight for them together in the fall."

Bradley called Gore "a man of wide-ranging intellect, with a deep desire to serve, profound preparation for the job, a strong sense of loyalty, and a life infused with tolerance and rooted in religious faith."

As Bradley praised Gore - and raised the issues he considers most important -- some delegates hoisted "Bradley" signs - an indication of their support for the candidate who didn't win a single state during the primaries.

During his 18-minute speech, Bradley talked about the need for campaign finance reform, the need to extend health care coverage to the uninsured and the need to end child poverty, which he described as a "slow motion national disaster."

He concluded, "There's a great wave beginning in this country. I saw it and felt it practically every day for over a year. And when it breaks, it will carry the trappings of political privilege with it. It will vanquish the insidious bond between big money and political decisions. It will break the grip of political lies on our imagination."

Some in the media called Tuesday "Kennedy" day at the convention, because four members of the political family were on the speaking roster. The most famous of them - Caroline Kennedy Schlolssberg - told delegates Tuesday night, "We are the New Frontier," borrowing a phrase her father used in 1960, when he accepted the presidential nomination in Los Angeles.

Schlossberg said, "As look out across this hall, and across this country, I know that my father's spirit lives on" - in the person of Al Gore. "Now it is our turn to prove that the New Frontier was not a place in time but a timeless call," she said.

Caroline's uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, followed his niece to the podium, where he continued the New Frontier theme. He said the challenge of the next four years (the New Frontier) is to take America "to new heights, to make this new century a new progressive era of high achievements for working families -- a time in which all Americans advance together."

"And 40 years from this night, may a future generation look back on this time and this convention, and say that it was here, under the leadership of Al Gore, that ... America dared to dream again."

Sen. Kennedy said, "There have been only three times in my life that I have supported candidates for president as early and as enthusiastically as I have supported Al Gore...Two of them were my brothers."

Two of Robert Kennedy's children -- environmental activist Robert Kennedy Jr. and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- spoke to the convention Tuesday afternoon, at a session supporting planks in the Democratic Party platform.

In addition, Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island - Sen. Kennedy's son -- addressed the convention on Monday afternoon in his role as chief money raiser for Democratic congressional campaigns.

The "rising star" at the Democratic convention was 30-year-old Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee - the youngest member of Congress -- who served as the keynote speaker.

He used his moment in the spotlight to appeal to young voters and minorities. "'I recognize that I stand here tonight because of the brave men and women, many no older than I am today, who fought and stood and often times sat down to create that perfect union," he said in a reference to the civil rights struggle of earlier generation.

"But I also stand here representing a new generation," he said. "I say to those of this new generation, I say to all Americans who share our spirit, if you want a future that belongs to you, if you want a future that is for everyone, then join with us and make Al Gore our next president."

He warned delegates that "some in the other party would have us go back."

Read the Speeches:
The Rev. Jesse Jackson
Former Sen. Bill Bradley
See Wednesday's Convention Schedule