Former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have said that incumbent George W Bush and the Republicans have isolated America in the war against terror and divided the country by giving tax credits to the rich at the expense of the poor.
They were among the inaugural speakers at the four day Democratic National Convention which began yesterday in Boston to officially inaugurate John Kerry for the November 2 elections.
Clinton was introduced to the 5000 delegates and their guests by his wife, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In a 25 minute speech which brough the cheering audience to its feet several times, Clinton said terrorism can only be defeated if America has more partners. The Republican Administration had not only wiped out the huge budgetary surpluses he had built but also is now running huge deficits, depending on China and Japan, he added.
"If you believe it is good policy vote for the Republicans. Otherwise, send John Kerry to the White House," he told the guests. He also blamed Republicans for rising health care costs and neglecting the environment.
The four-day convention, held under the theme "Stronger at home, respected in the world," is seen as a crucial test for Kerry's ability to maintain his campaign's momentum.
Both Clinton and Carter pointed out that the country was united after 9/11 with the rest of the world. But Bush, said Clinton, "walked away from our allies" in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work. Similarly, instead of seeking to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Bush Administration was trying to build two new weapons.
"This is a time of unprecedented change. The question is how to build a safe and prosperous world for the children. The 21st century is marked by serious security threats and challenges but it also provides amazing opportunities," he said.
Carter said the current administration is "sorely lacking in judgment and maturity." Referring to allegations that Bush misled the nation into war against America, he said: "Our international challenge is to restore the greatness of America, based on speaking the truth, commitment to peace and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world.
"Truth is the foundation of our global leadership but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without trust, America cannot flourish," Carter said.
Former Vice President Al Gore alluded to the fact that he lost the last election though he had won more popular votes than Bush did but a Supreme Court ruling made Bush the President to succeed Clinton.
Gore, Clinton and other speakers asked the delegates to see that it does not happen again, and stressed that the only way to prevent that is to make every vote count and persuade every voter to cast his ballot.
With reports of Al Qaeda plans to disrupt the first national convention since 9/11, a massive security net was thrown over the city. Apart from 3000 policemen at the venue, barricades were set up, streets closed, and police sharpshooters posted on nearby rooftops.