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Kennedy: Kerry a leader worthy of our country

America needs a uniter, the senator said

Sen. Edward Kennedy extols John Kerry as a leader and healer.
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Sen. Ted Kennedy says there is hope in Sen. John Kerry's leadership.
America Votes 2004
John F. Kerry
Edward Kennedy
Day Three: Wednesday

• Theme: "A Stronger, More Secure America"

• 4 p.m. ET: Session opens

• 7-9 p.m. ET: Speakers include Elijah Cummings, John Edwards' daughter Cate, Bob Graham, Dennis Kucinich, Ed Rendell

• 9 p.m. ET: Speakers include Bill Richardson, Jennifer Granholm, Claudia Kennedy

• 10 p.m. ET: Elizabeth Edwards introduces her husband, John Edwards for his keynote address

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Rousing the Democratic faithful in his home city Tuesday night, Sen. Edward Kennedy said the November election will be the most important of his long political career, exhorting "patriots of this new century" to prevent "four more years of dreams denied and promises unfilled and progress rolled back."

"In the depths of the Depression, Franklin Roosevelt inspired the nation when he said, 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,' " Kennedy said in a speech to the Democratic National Convention. "Today, we say the only thing we have to fear is four more years of George Bush." (Read transcript)

Invoking the imagery of the American Revolution, which began in Massachusetts, the patriarch of the legendary Kennedy political clan also said "the goals of the American people are every bit as high as they were more than 200 years ago."

"If America is failing to reach them today, it's not because our ideals need replacing. It's because our president needs replacing."

Kennedy, 72, who was first elected to the Senate in 1962, was making his eighth address to a Democratic convention.

Among the most memorable was a speech in 1980, after he lost the presidential nomination to Jimmy Carter, in which he vowed that while his campaign was over, "the dream shall never end." And in 1988, he lampooned Bush's father, the former president, with repeated shouts of "Where was George?"

Presidential father and son came in for another jab Tuesday night.

"Our struggle is not with some monarch named George who inherited the crown -- although it often seems that way," Kennedy said. "Our struggle is with the politics of fear and favoritism in our own time, in our own country."

Kennedy also used his speech to address an issue on which he and the party's soon-to-be presidential nominee, Sen. John Kerry, did not agree.

Kerry supported a congressional resolution authorizing Bush to use force; Kennedy was one of its strongest opponents.

"More than 900 of our servicemen and women have already paid the ultimate price. Nearly 6,000 have been wounded in this misguided war," he said.

America needs 'a uniter'

"The administration has alienated long-time allies. Instead of making America more secure, they have made us less so. They have made it harder to win the real war on terrorism and the war against al Qaeda. And none of this had to happen."

But Kennedy called Kerry "a leader worthy of our country." The two men have been Massachusetts seatmates in the Senate for nearly 20 years.

"I've known John Kerry for three decades. I've known him as a soldier, as a peacemaker, as a prosecutor, as a senator and as a friend," he said. "He was the right man for every tough task."

"In these challenging times for our country, in these fateful times for the world, America needs a genuine uniter, not a divider who only claims to be a uniter."

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