LOS ANGELES -- Boasting of prosperity and trying to erase the vestiges of scandal, Democrats open their change-of-command convention Monday with a farewell address by President Clinton. The rest of the week belongs to Al Gore.
The Clinton valedictory stretches over 14 hours at the security-fenced Democratic National Convention, the main event a prime time television address to say that his campaign promises have been kept and Gore's will be too.
Clinton says Gore would keep building prosperity for all Americans, and Republican nominee George W. Bush would not. "If people know the difference in what's in our vision for the future and what we're going to build on and what they intend to dismantle, do you have any doubt what the decision will be?" he asked the Democratic National Committee on Sunday. "Of course you don't."
As more than 4,300 delegates gathered, police, working 12-hour shifts, braced for the threat of heightened protests during the four days of the convention. A first wave of demonstrators, some 3,500 of them, marched on the convention hall Sunday, shouting and chanting their way to the protest area outside the Staples Center. Ten-foot chain-link fences walled them from the convention hall and legions of police, some of them in riot gear, kept them in the court-ordered protest zone.
Gore was slowly making his way to his convention city, stopping Monday at former President Harry Truman's hometown outside Kansas City to mark the 65th anniversary of the Social Security system and tout his own proposals to expand Medicare.
He was being joined there by running mate Joseph Lieberman.
The polls of voter preference rate Bush the leader 12 weeks before the Nov. 7 elections, by margins that ranged from 3 percentage points in one survey released Sunday to 16 in another. A CNN-USA Today-Gallup Poll gave Bush 55 percent, Gore 39. during the week between the Democratic and Republican national conventions.
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