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CONVENTION UPDATE
DAY FOUR: THE DEMOCRATS IN BOSTON

What to look for:

Tonight Sen. John F. Kerry accepts the Democratic nomination for president in a speech supporters hope will prove pivotal for his prospects in November. The approximately 10:30 p.m. address follows an introduction by former Sen. Max Cleland of Georgia who lost two legs and an arm in Vietnam.

Kerry's crewmates from his own Vietnam War days will also appear. At 9:45 p.m., members of his family are expected to speak, including daughters Vanessa and Alexandra Kerry and stepsons Chris and Andre Heinz.

Political skinny:

By orders of the Kerry command, this was a Democratic convention unlike any other in memory. While one convention speaker after another extolled the candidate's war record, they skipped lightly over controversial issues that Democrats traditionally support -- abortion rights, gun control, gay rights and affirmative action among them.

Developments:

"No retreat, no surrender," Kerry vowed after crossing Boston's inner harbor by ferry for a welcome-home rally in the city that has nourished his political career for a quarter-century.

It was a night for also-rans as the Rev. Al Sharpton, the flamboyant preacher, activist and James Brown protege, and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the earnest vegan bachelor, took the stage in support of the candidate who went the distance.

On television:

Today's scheduled network coverage of the convention:

ABC, CBS, NBC: 10-11 p.m.

PBS: 8-11 p.m.

C-SPAN: 4-11 p.m.

MSNBC: 6-7 p.m. and 8- 11 p.m.

Who's talking:

"John Kerry is a better man than Bush. I'm talking as a man. If it's man-to-man, it's no contest." political strategist James Carville

An alternative view:

"You had Ted Kennedy kicking things off, and then you had Howard Dean, and then you had Teresa Heinz Kerry. Yes, it was loose cannon Tuesday." David Letterman

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