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Kerry to Focus on Security in Nomination Acceptance Speech

Kerry officially received the Democratic party’s nomination late Wednesday, following an impassioned speech from running mate Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina. Edwards praised Kerry as a decisive and battle-tested leader ready to confront new challenges in the age of terrorism.

By the end of Wednesday night, the Democratic National Committee’s office tallied 4,255 votes for Kerry and 37 votes for Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.

The nearly unanimous vote set the stage for Kerry’s crucial acceptance speech Thursday night, marking the finale of the unified party convention.

Kerry’s planned 50-minute primetime televised address will give the Massachusetts senator his largest national audience yet. Kerry is expected to tout his credentials as a strong commander in chief by recalling his experiences as a four-term senator, decorated Vietnam War veteran and former prosecutor.

Kerry’s address is said to focus primarily on national security issues, in attempt to counter Republicans’ charges that he is weak and a “flip-flopper” on homeland defense matters — an area where a recent ABC News/Washington Post survey shows President George Bush maintains a clear edge.

Former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia, a frequent companion for Kerry on the campaign trail and a fellow Vietnam War veteran who lost three limbs during the war, will introduce Kerry.

Before Kerry takes to the stage Thursday night, his daughters, Alexandra and Vanessa, will address the convention, along with former Army Green Beret Jim Rassman, whose life was saved by Kerry during a Vietnam War firefight.

Following the convention, Kerry and Edwards will hit the road, leaving Boston by bus after an early morning kickoff rally. They will head to Pennsylvania on a two-week cross-country trip that will hit many of the key battleground states in the Nov. 2 election that polls show is essentially a dead heat.

President Bush’s advisers said he would begin campaigning the morning after Kerry accepts his nomination, and continue through most of the month to minimize the traditional popularity bounce that comes at the end of a party’s convention.

Upon his acceptance of the nomination, Kerry will fall under the federal campaign finance system and be given $75 million to spend through Election Day.

Mr. Bush can keep raising and spending money for another five weeks, until he accepts the Republican nomination in New York City — giving him a potential $40 million advantage over the Democrats.

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