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US Democratic Convention Begins Monday

  • VOA News

The Democratic Party's National Convention opens later on Monday in Denver, Colorado -- where the first-ever African-American candidate will accept his party's nomination for president of the United States.

The convention consists of four days of rallies, speeches and meetings, capped by Thursday's acceptance speech by Illinois Senator Barack Obama. The Republican Party holds its national convention next week. The conventions mark the official start of campaigning for the general election.

Obama campaigned Sunday in Wisconsin, where he attended a cookout and criticized the Republican candidate, Senator John McCain, saying he is out of touch with average citizens.

McCain had no public appearances Sunday, but his campaign released two new advertisements critical of Obama.

One of the ads included Obama's newly-named running mate, Senator Joseph Biden. The commercial contained previous remarks by Biden saying Obama is not ready to be president. At the time he made the remarks, Biden was also running for his party's 2008 presidential nomination.

Another McCain campaign ad says Obama passed over his former Democratic rival, Senator Hillary Clinton, for vice president because she pointed out Obama's flaws during the Democratic primary race.

Democratic Party officials are trying to downplay any lingering tension between Obama and Clinton supporters. News reports say Clinton intends to gather her delegates Wednesday and release them to support Obama.

Separately, Democratic Party officials on Sunday restored full voting rights to delegates from the states of Michigan and Florida. The two states were stripped of their voting rights at the convention as punishment for holding primary elections before they were allowed by party rules.

Obama asked that the delegations be restored as a show of unity and as a gesture to Clinton supporters. Clinton received more votes in Michigan and Florida. Obama removed his name from the Michigan ballot. Neither candidate campaigned in Florida in advance of that state's primary.

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