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Kerry, accepting Democrats’ nomination, touts his war experience & ‘shared values’

WASHINGTON (BP)–Presidential nominee John Kerry told his party and the country on the closing night of the Democratic National Convention he will defend the United States and esteem values and faith if he is elected.

Kerry, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, accepted the nomination of his party July 29 in Boston and presented a vision he hopes will propel his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, and him to the White House in the November election.

Kerry’s often moderate to conservative content and tone contrasted with the bulk of the convention’s delegates and even his own record in the Senate. Polls showed most of the delegates opposed the war in Iraq and favored abortion rights, while a plurality supported same-sex “marriage” by a two-to-one margin.

In his speech, the senator from Massachusetts said he knew what needed to be done in Iraq, without providing details on his plans. Though he has been a strong supporter of both abortion and homosexual rights, he mentioned neither issue directly during his speech. He has supported same-sex civil unions while stating he opposes homosexual “marriage,” but he spoke of neither specifically before a national television audience.

The speech, and the convention, presented paradoxes, some observers said.

“My main question after watching the speech last night is: Will the real John Kerry please stand up?” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Is the real John Kerry the Vietnam war hero or the Vietnam turncoat who visited with the enemy’s negotiators at the Paris peace talks and called his still combat-serving, fellow soldiers and sailors war criminals in testimony before the Senate?” Land said. “Is the real John Kerry the candidate who talked tough on terrorism last night or the John Kerry who in the Senate voted against every major weapons system our soldiers, sailors and airmen are using to defend America today and who voted to gut the resources of our intelligence-gathering services throughout the 1990s? Is the real John Kerry the one who says that he will stay the course in Iraq or the John Kerry who voted against the first Gulf War and who voted for the second Gulf War but then voted against the bill that provided the resources for our soldiers’ body armor and ammunition? Is the real John Kerry the one who believes that life begins at conception or the John Kerry who supports the continued killing of millions of American babies?”

Raymond Flynn, three-time Democratic mayor of Boston and ambassador to the Vatican under President Clinton, called the week a “Stepford convention,” referring to “The Stepford Wives,” a recent movie that portrays a town where things are not what they seem.

The convention was “cleverly choreographed during prime time, when in actuality, the Kerry/Edwards team is the most left-wing our nation has ever seen on the issues of abortion and gay marriage,” Flynn said in a written statement.

“At the end of the day, it’s vulnerable children who are the victims of the Democratic Party’s unwillingness to listen to the majority of Americans who want to see children raised by moms and dads and not brutally sacrificed in late-term and partial-birth abortions,” said Flynn, a Roman Catholic. “I think their reluctance to listen to the electorate on these issues will hurt them at the polls.”

Early in his speech, Kerry built the case for his ability to lead the country’s military, targeting President Bush for what many Democrats charge has been his deceit in going to war in Iraq.

“I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war,” the Vietnam War medal-winner said. “And as president, I will bring back this nation’s time-honored tradition: The United States of America never goes to war because we want to; we only go to war because we have to.

“I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president. Let there be no mistake: I will never hesitate to use force when it is required. Any attack will be met with a swift and certain response. I will never give any nation or international institution a veto over our national security. And I will build a stronger American military.”

His administration will add 40,000 troops but not place them in Iraq, Kerry said. He will double special forces to meet anti-terrorist needs, he said. Kerry also said he would conduct a “smarter, more effective war on terror.”

In his references to family and cultural issues, Kerry said, “For four years, we’ve heard a lot of talk about values. But values spoken without actions taken are just slogans.

“We believe that what matters most is not narrow appeals masquerading as values but the shared values that show the true face of America, not narrow values that divide us but shared values that unite us,” he said. “Family and faith, hard work, opportunity and responsibility for all so that every child, every parent, every worker has an equal shot at living up to their God-given potential.”

In the cause of seeking common ground and in his campaign, the Roman Catholic said “we welcome people of faith. America is not us and them. … I don’t wear my own faith on my sleeve. But faith has given me values and hope to live by, from Vietnam to this day, from Sunday to Sunday. … And whatever our faith, one belief should bind us all: The measure of our character is our willingness to give of ourselves for others and for our country.”

In directing comments to Bush, he said, “… let’s never misuse for political purposes the most precious document in American history, the Constitution of the United States,” an apparent reference to the president’s support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, which recently failed in the Senate.

Land took issue with that statement, saying, “For Mr. Kerry’s information, the most precious document in American history is the Bible, not the Constitution. Mr. Kerry needs to quit playing politics with what the Bible says about the sanctity of marriage and the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman.

“Because of people like Senator Kerry, who is one of only 17 senators who voted against the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton, we must amend the Constitution to protect an even more precious institution, marriage,” Land said. “I think it’s very telling that President Bush has made his position very clear on this issue, and when the Senate debated this issue of same-sex ‘marriage,’ 98 senators took the time to show up, debate the issue and be counted. Only two senators dodged the vote, Kerry and Edwards. When it came time to stand up and be counted, they were profiles in cowardice.”

Kerry touched on the controversial issue of stem cell research. “What if we find a breakthrough to cure Parkinson’s, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and AIDS?” Kerry said. “What if we have a president who believes in science, so we can unleash the wonders of discovery like stem cell research and treat illness and millions of lives?”

In 2001, Bush ordered a ban on federal funding of destructive embryonic stem cell research, but Kerry supports it. The president and other foes of embryonic research support funding experiments using stem cells from adults and other sources, such as placentas and umbilical cord blood. Stem cells from non-embryonic sources already have provided effective treatments for more than 40 afflictions, but cells from embryos have produced no such cures. The procurement of stem cells from embryos destroys them.

His administration not only will refuse to raise taxes on the middle class, but it will cut taxes on middle-class Americans, Kerry said. It also will “roll back the tax cuts” for people who make more than $200,000 a year, he said.