Party leaders on 27 July criticized President George W. Bush's handling of the war on terror, and presented Kerry as a candidate who is strong on national security issues and will make a capable commander in chief.
Kerry's fellow Democrat and senator from Massachusetts is Edward Kennedy, head of the country's most famous political dynasty. He told the convention on 27 July that the Republican Party had wasted the goodwill generated after 11 September 2001.
"The administration has alienated long-time allies. Instead of making America more secure, they have made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism, the war against Al-Qaeda. None of this had to happen," Kennedy said.
Shortly after the 72-year-old Kennedy issued his call to action, 42-year-old Barack Obama, a legislator from the state of Illinois, delivered the evening's keynote address with an appeal for unity.
Obama is widely expected to be elected senator in November, which would make him the only African-American in that position. His speech celebrated the diversity of the United States while addressing what he said was the need for Kerry to lift the country out of its "long political darkness."
Obama also condemned the way the Bush administration has conducted the war in Iraq. "When we send our young men and women into harm's way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they're going, to care for their families while they're gone, to tend to soldiers upon their return, and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world," Obama said.
Kerry's wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, portrayed her husband as both a fighter and a leader sensitive to other views. She said he would return the United States to its "moral bearings" through efforts that would include greater environmental protection measures.
Heinz Kerry, a multimillionaire and philanthropist, is known for her spontaneity and outspokenness -- something that may affect Kerry's campaign. In her address she defended her right to speak her mind. "My only hope is that one day soon, women -- who have all earned their right to their opinions -- instead of being called opinionated, will be called smart and well-informed just like men," Heinz Kerry said.
On 28 July, Kerry's running mate, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, is to be officially nominated and will give his acceptance speech.