Female senators `turbo' charge crowd

Mikulski leads montage meant to highlight history, build unity and optimism

Election 2004 -- The Democratic Convention

July 27, 2004|By Kimberly A.C. Wilson | Kimberly A.C. Wilson,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

BOSTON - First came the welcoming remarks. Then a little rock 'n' roll music, more speeches and applause - lots of applause. And by the time nine female senators took to the stage in the Fleet Center last night, the crowd was revved up, and the Democratic National Convention was in full swing.

Led by Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland, the senators launched a 15-minute salute to former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and former vice president Al Gore. Their mission: to use their personal stories to remind viewers of the party's historical highs and to link that history to John Kerry, especially for female voters.

"Four more years of Bush-Cheney will lead to an America we will not recognize. I just cannot accept that, and neither can John Kerry," said Hillary Rodham Clinton, the junior senator from New York.

Next generation

In what Mikulski called the "turbo event to kick off the convention," the senators starred in a video montage focused on creating opportunity for the next generation of leaders.

The segment, narrated by actress Glenn Close, who contributed $2,000 to Howard Dean's campaign and $500 for John Edwards' presidential run, featured Mikulski, Clinton and Sens. Blanche Lambert Lincoln of Arkansas, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington state, all offering hopeful messages of a safer, happier future with Democrats at the helm.

When it ended, the lawmakers crowded behind the podium with a few dozen children of delegates and conventioneers, and Mikulski offered a three-minute message that balanced history with a look ahead.

For more than 200 years before Mikulski was elected Maryland's junior senator, she pointed out, only 15 women had served in the Senate.

"One served only one day," she said, pausing dramatically. "I was the first Democratic woman elected in her own right. Though I was the first, I didn't want to be the first and only. I wanted to be the first of many."

Like the video montage that preceded her remarks, Mikulski stressed some of the party's central platform items: jobs, health insurance, smaller class sizes in schools, senior care and homeland security.

"It's not about gender; it's about an agenda," she said.

The Democratic whip in the House of Representatives, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer of Southern Maryland, had the distinction of addressing the delegates twice last night. In the mantle of convention parliamentarian, a position Hoyer has held during three previous conventions, he advised party members of the rules of conduct when speaking on the floor. Then, before Mikulski took the podium, he addressed the hall as the party's second-ranking member in the House.

Victory predicted

"In 99 days, we're going to elect John Kerry - a son of this wonderful city - as the 44th president of the United States and John Edwards as vice president," Hoyer said to the vigorous cheers that are sure to resound throughout the four-day convention.

"And on that same day, Democrats are going to win majorities in the United States House of Representatives and the Senate. And, together, we will create a consensus for progress, responsibility and community that will lift our country and all its people to new levels of safety, security and success."

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