It's home to Fenway Park, Harvard University, and Plymouth Rock. Now, the state of Massachusetts will play host to yet another American institutionthe Democratic National Convention.
Democrats from coast to coast will flock to the Bay State, as Boston kicks off its first-ever political convention on July 26. Roughly 5,000 delegates from 56 state and territorial delegations will gather at Boston's Fleet Center. There, they will nominate John Kerry and John Edwards as the Democratic candidates for President and Vice President.
The Democratic Convention site has special significance to Kerry. After all, Boston is his hometown. More importantly, however, it represents many of the same principles the Democratic Party supports, says Lina Garcia, press secretary for the Democratic National Convention.
"The party chose Boston because it brings the convention to a historically important locale," she says. "This is where the American story began, where the ideals that have come to define the country and the party were first fashioned."
Delegates will be joined by 15,000 members of the press and a lineup of the party's top stars. Former President Bill Clinton will address convention participants on opening night, followed by Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy, who will deliver a speech the following evening.
While a roster of inspirational speakers is sure to put attendees in a festive mood, the Democrats will also use the four-day event to iron out serious policy issues. During the convention, for example, they will adopt a statement of principles, known as the Party Platform.
Both the Democratic and Republican conventions are steeped in tradition. But their purpose has changed over the years, now that the nominations are secured before the conventions, says NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw. Brokaw has 30 years of experience covering political conventions.
"When I first began to cover [the conventions], they really decided who was going to be the presidential nominee at the convention," Brokaw told Scholastic News Online. "Now ... we know who the nominees are going to be. It's not as suspenseful as it once was. Now, they ... treat it like a pep rally so they can get their spirits up and tell the nation why they are the superior party."
Pep rally or not, both the Republican and Democratic conventions will give the American public a closer look at their candidates and their vision for the future of the country.
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