Democratic National Convention
 FleetCenter in Boston    July 26-29, 2004 
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Why Boston?
DNCC, Inc. Organization
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Platform Process
Letters from a Delegate
Key Speeches

July 26, 2004
July 27, 2004
July 28, 2004
July 29, 2004
The Kerry-Edwards Plan for America's Future A Lifetime of Strength and 
A Stronger More Secure America Stronger at Home, Respected in the World
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (OH), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Rep. Bob Menendez (NJ). Former Vice President Gore, Former President Carter, Former President Clinton.
Sen. Ted Kennedy (MA), Christie Vilsack (IA), Gov. Janet Napolitano (AZ).
Teresa Heinz Kerry. 
Keynote address U.S. Sen. nominee Barack Obama (IL).
Gov. Bill Richardson (NM), Mayor Martin O'Malley (Baltimore, MD), Retired Marine Lt. Col Steve Brozak (NJ).
Elizabeth Edwards  introduces Sen. Edwards
Alex and Vanessa Kerry; Chris and Andre Heinz.
Former Sen. Max Cleland introduces Sen. Kerry.
Out from Boston >
On July 26-29, 2004 Boston, a city steeped in political history, held its first national political convention as the Democrats met at FleetCenter to nominate Sen. John F. Kerry and Sen. John Edwards as the party's candidates for president and vice president.  With the nominees and the platform effectively settled, the main question was how well Kerry could make his case to the American people.  The Massachusetts Senator had already been campaigning for a year and a half, but news coverage suggested that voters have not "warmed up to him."  Kerry's many months on the campaign trail have given him the opportunity to refine his message, and hone his speaking style.  Now, the stage was set. 

Over a year of planning went into the convention.  Inside FleetCenter workers built a set 60-plus feet tall and 170 feet wide, complete with a 90-foot by 17-foot video screen and a 55-foot wide American flag overhead.   4,341 delegates and 610 alternates travelled from the 50 states, DC, territories, and abroad to participate; according to the party this was its most diverse convention ever.   Although network coverage was reduced from past levels, cable, print and and Internet media, including bloggers, provided abundant reporting.1  Security was tight in view of concerns about a possible terrorist attack.

In his acceptance speech on Thursday night, Kerry declared that "...we are here tonight united in one simple purpose: to make America stronger at home and respected in the world."  The next day Kerry and Edwards embarked on a "Believe in America" tour, heading out into battleground states.

The convention demonstrated unity, but did not generate much of a bounce in the polls.  Kerry's campaign had earlier pointed out that the relatively small number of undecided voters made a sizable bounce unlikely.  Nonetheless a post-convention memo2 from the Democracy Corps (James Carville, Stanley Greenberg), while acknowledging some accomplishments, stated that the "small shift in the vote is disappointing."  As for the City of Boston, according to an analysis3 by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University, the convention generated benefits of $156.7 million but cost  $141.9 million in lost spending due to "displaced events and lost tourist and commuter spending" for a net gain fo $14.8 million.

-The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2003 designated the Democratic National Convention as a National Special Security Event; security preparations involving federal, state and local authorities were under way for over a year.

-Conventions provide fertile ground for fundraising activity (donors).

-The Kucinich campaign opened a Convention headquarters in Boston, headed by Tim Carpenter, on May 10, 2004 and engaged in a range of activities.

-Various groups demonstrated during the Convention.  The City of Boston required groups and individuals wishing to stage events from July 24-August 1 to obtain a permit.  Applications were to be submitted 14 days before the proposed event.  Over two dozen groups and individuals, ranging from the American Friends Service Committee and the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition to Democrats for Life and Vietnam Veterans Against Kerry planned events.

A sanctioned demonstration zone, with a stage and sound system, was located "on a parcel of land adjacent to Canal Street near the bus depot where delegates will be arriving for the convention."  The space, under a no longer used elevated track and surrounded by netting, fencing and razor wire, was described as a cage or pen and was the subject of a legal challenge.  In a preliminary injunction hearing on July 22, 2004 U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock declined to intervene while stating that, "One cannot conceive of what other elements you would put in place to make a space more of an affront to the idea of free expression than the designated demonstration zone.  But I add what I said before:  With adequate reason."  While individuals and very small groups used the official zone to espouse their views, a number of larger demonstrations and events took place around the city.

-The Boston Police Patrolmen's Association was in a two-year contract dispute with the City of Boston and had promised to picket events attended by Mayor Menino; a settlement was imposed just days before the convention started. >

-Republican leaders were on hand to "rebut John Kerry's extreme makeover."  "John Kerry is a far left duckling that hopes to emerge from his convention as a center swan," stated RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie in July 2004 conference call.  "We realize we’ll be swimming upstream, but each day of the Democratic Convention, we’ll have an anger management session.  We will talk about what’s coming that day in the Democrat Convention Program, as well as some of the specifics in the platform...," said Gillespie.  The RNC on July 21 launched a website; it had about 30 staff in Boston, and held daily press conferences at 10 a.m..

1.  In addition to news, the campaign's website did well; Nielsen//NetRatings reported that at-home traffic to the John Kerry for President website spiked 191 percent, going from a unique audience of 265,000 on July 25, 2004 to 771,000 on August 1, 2004.  See Nielsen//NetRatings (press release).  "John Kerry Surges Online as Last Week's No. 1 Fastest Growing Website At-Home According to Nielsen//NetRankings."  August 6, 2004. >

2. Democracy Corps (strategy memo).  "From Small Bounce to Big Opportunity."  August 9, 2004. >

3. Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.  "The Economic Impact of the Democratic National Convention on the Boston Economy: The Final Tally."  August 9, 2004. >

See Also:
Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. "Blacks and the 2004 Democratic National Convention"  July 26, 2004. >  (07/19/04) (11/03) (07/21/04-launched) (07/21/04)
Bl(A)ck Tea Society
"an ad hoc coalition whose purpose is supporting protestors of the DNC. We aim to create a space for others to protest the DNC and exercise their first ammendment rights." (3/15/04)

Copyright © 2004  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.