Edwards Says 'Hope Is On The Way' As Dems Nominate Kerry

VP Candidate's Speech Addresses Economic, International Concerns.

Striking the same sunny tone that propelled him to second place in this year's primaries, vice presidential nominee John Edwards told Democrats that "hope is on the way" as the party formally nominated Senator John Kerry as its presidential candidate.

"Between now and November, you, the American people, you can reject the tired, old, hateful, negative politics of the past," said Edwards. "Instead, you can embrace the politics of hope, the politics of what's possible. Because this is America, where everything is possible."

Edwards has spoken often of his upbringing as the son of a mill worker. On Wednesday, the North Carolina senator brought the Fleet Center to a hush as he painted pictures of other working-class Americans struggling to make ends meet.

"John Kerry and I believe that we shouldn't have two different economies in this country: one for people who are set for life, [who] know their kids and their grandkids are going to be just fine, and then one for most Americans, people who live paycheck-to-paycheck," Edwards said.

He also put a bit more policy meat on the bones of the Kerry/ Edwards agenda: All Americans would have access to the health care plan members of Congress enjoy under a Kerry/ Edwards administration, Edwards said. And the government would offer tax breaks of up to $4,000 to cover the costs of college.

Both programs would be covered by partially eliminating the tax cuts passed during the Bush administration.

"We are going to keep and protect the tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans," said Edwards. "We're going to roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. We're going to close corporate loopholes. We're going to cut government contractors and wasteful spending. We can move this country forward without passing the burden to our children and our grandchildren."

Edwards also sought to dispel concerns that the Democrats would be softer on terrorism than the current administration. He spoke at length about the Kerry/ Edwards ticket's support for troops overseas and proposed to double the size of U.S. Special Forces.

"We will have one clear unmistakable message for al Qaeda and these terrorists: You cannot run. You cannot hide. We will destroy you."

But Edwards finished his speech just as he did his campaign for the White House in the spring — on a high note.

"We should never look down on anybody, we ought to lift people up. We don't believe in tearing people apart," he said. "We believe in bringing them together. What we believe — what I believe — is that the family you're born into and the color of your skin, in our America, should never control your destiny."

Senator Kerry was not at Boston's Fleet Center for the ceremony and instead spent the evening at his home in the city, receiving visitors who included Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.

Day three of the convention also featured speeches from a number of other Democratic quotable notables, including former presidential candidate Reverend Al Sharpton of New York.

Sharpton brought down the house as he discussed how blacks came to form one of the Democratic Party's most reliable constituencies. He cited the Republicans' well-known and unfulfilled promise to provide all blacks with 40 acres and a mule at the end of the Civil War.

"We went all the way to Herbert Hoover, and we never got the 40 acres. We didn't get the mule. So we decided we'd ride this donkey as far as it would take us," he said, to laughs and wild cheers from the delegates.