The Democratic Party meets this week in Los Angeles to formally nominate Vice-President Al Gore as its candidate in this year’s presidential election.
President Bill Clinton will address the convention on Monday night, as will his wife, Hillary, herself a candidate for a New York Senate seat. Clinton’s speech will be telecast immediately after the Titans-Rams football game and will be one of his last opportunities to promote his record in office. Clinton is expected to take credit for the state of the US economy – “My old daddy used to say: If you find a turtle on a fence post, chances are it didn’t get there by accident” – and lavish praise on Gore.
The speech will be followed by a symbolic “passing of the torch” ceremony on Tuesday, prior to Gore’s address to the convention on Thursday night.
There are 4,370 delegates attending the convention, the culmination of six months of primary elections in the states. 20 percent of the delegates are African American, 10 percent are Hispanic, 3.5 percent are Asian American and 1.7 percent are Native American. Gay delegates comprise about 3 percent of the delegates.
Opinion polls show Gore trailing his Republican opponent, Governor George W. Bush of Texas, although the gap has narrowed since the Republican convention and Gore’s announcement of connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman as his running-mate.
Gore’s choice of Lieberman appears to have boosted his campaign. An orthodox Jew, Lieberman was one of the first Democrats to criticise Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and subsequent impeachment.
Gore said this weekend that in his acceptance speech he will embrace Clinton’s success in managing the American economy, but also run on his own agenda.
The Democrats last held their national convention in Los Angeles in 1960 when John F. Kennedy accepted the nomination.