LOS ANGELES -- Al Gore, the Democrat-in-chief now, is telling voters "you ain't seen nothing yet" as he seeks to take over President Clinton's lease on the White House with a promise to lead America to even better times.
With the ritual roll call of states, the Democratic National Convention ratifies Gore's presidential nomination Wednesday night.
First, Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was being installed as Gore's vice presidential running mate, and delivering his acceptance speech as the first Jew ever to run on the national ticket of a major party.
Lieberman said in an interview with The Associated Press that his aim in the speech was to introduce himself to the American people, to talk about "the Al Gore that I know and I think a lot of Americans still don't know" and to warn that a Republican victory would turn the nation away from "the positive course that it's on."
He said his Orthodox Judaism will keep him from campaigning on Saturdays and on three Jewish holidays in the weeks before the Nov. 7 election. "I'm just going to do what I've always done and work extra hard on the days that I'm campaigning," he said. Lieberman said Gore "doesn't want me to vary from my traditional practices and I won't."
He said his faith would not affect his handling of Middle East matters, because the record shows "that I've obviously supported the U.S. position" when American policy diverges from that of Israel.
"My first and only loyalty is to the United States of America," he said.
Lieberman made his convention debut Tuesday night, joining his Connecticut delegation to an eruption of cheers as he slowly made his way down the crowded aisle.
Beyond the high fences and police cordons that ringed the convention hall, protesters marched and rallied for their assorted causes, with 95 arrested, but without the violence that had flared a night earlier outside the Staples Center arena.
Forty-five people were arrested as animal rights activists opposed to the fur trade banged on the windows of businesses, including a fur shop, and 50 people were taken into custody from a rally of bicycle riders seeking more bike lanes and other facilities for cyclists, police said early Wednesday. Among those detained was an Associated Press reporter who was following the demonstrators on a bicycle. It was unclear whether the cyclists would be charged.
Gore was due in Los Angeles on Wednesday for a preview rally, before he comes to the convention on Thursday night to deliver the acceptance address that will begin the crucial, final phase of his campaign against the Republican nominee, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
On the way, he and Clinton symbolized the reversal of their political roles at a rally in Monroe, Mich., on Tuesday, with a long embrace and a mutual admiration trade-off.
"Every good thing that has happened, that came out of our administration in the last eight years, Al Gore was at the heart of it," Clinton said. He said that includes "the new economy," welfare reform, advances in education and a lowered crime rate.
"America's done well," Gore said, "but I tell you, you ain't seen nothing yet. We're going forward to even better times."
They didn't pass any torch or baton, but Clinton's stop at a McDonald's for french fries on the way out of town was an apt symbol of his new role. He said it used to be a regular thing when he was in private life, "so maybe I'll do it some more now." He was headed for a weekend at Lake Placid, N.Y.; Gore for the intensity of the convention and fall campaign.
The vice president said he knows there is "a hard-fought race" ahead of him. Two public opinion polls published Wednesday showed Bush ahead by 9-point margins.
On Tuesday, the Democrats adopted their campaign platform, blending liberal promises with centrist planks aimed at middle-of-the-road voters.
The platform was patterned on Gore's agenda; parts of it read like his campaign speeches. There was no debate, only grumbling by Alaskans about a plank opposing oil exploration, and a rebuke from a campaign reformer, Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, because the Democrats are taking unregulated, soft money at convention fund-raising affairs.
"It should not be," he said. The platform, and Gore, advocate a law to ban soft money, the large, unregulated sums donated by corporations and unions.
Green Party candidate Ralph Nader had similar criticisms. Speaking Wednesday on CBS' "The Early Show," Nader said, "Overall the party is being supported and funded by the same corporate interests that were in Philadelphia for the Republican convention. It's cash register politics."
Except for the platform, the day's convention business was all talk, some dry, some dramatic, by nearly 60 speakers.
In the city where John F. Kennedy was nominated for president 40 years ago and summoned Americans to a New Frontier, his brother, his daughter, a niece and a nephew took the convention stage in turn to evoke his memory and to urge Gore's election.
"How proud he would be of Al Gore and our party and the new barrier of bigotry we are breaking down with the choice of Joe Lieberman as the next vice president of the United States," said Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts senator said Gore will strive to deliver the universal health care that has been "the driving dream of my public service."
Gore said at the rally with Clinton that he would "move toward universal coverage step by step, starting with coverage for every single child in America within the next four years."
Caroline Kennedy, the late president's daughter, told the convention "it is our turn to prove that the New Frontier was not a place in time but a timeless call."
Bill Bradley, the lone, losing challenger to Gore for the nomination, declared it "absolutely essential" that Democrats unite to elect the vice president.
Jesse Jackson, in a speech that could help Lieberman dispel doubts among blacks about his views on affirmative action, said that when Gore chose his Jewish running mate, "he stood up for justice. ... Al Gore had brought the sons and daughters of slaves and slavemasters together with the sons and daughters of Holocaust survivors."
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