Forget Clinton, bring on the Kennedy clan

Convention Diary
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Al Gore can't complain that the Democratic Party isn't pulling out all the stops. On Tuesday night, it offered aCamelot revival, with a succession of Kennedys recalling the night in Los Angeles 40 years ago, when John Fitzgerald Kennedy received his party's nomination for president. The line-up included Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, JFK's sole surviving offspring. Introducing heruncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, Mrs Schlossberg called on Americans "at a time when many of us are doing so well ... to ask more of ourselves".

Al Gore can't complain that the Democratic Party isn't pulling out all the stops. On Tuesday night, it offered aCamelot revival, with a succession of Kennedys recalling the night in Los Angeles 40 years ago, when John Fitzgerald Kennedy received his party's nomination for president. The line-up included Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, JFK's sole surviving offspring. Introducing heruncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, Mrs Schlossberg called on Americans "at a time when many of us are doing so well ... to ask more of ourselves".

Mrs Schlossberg's rare public appearance headed all the late evening news programmes and defused the star appeal of President Bill Clinton's tour de force - the "Elvis Farewell", as one headline had dubbed it - of theevening before.

* A leading champion of reforming the political funding system, Wisconsin's Senator Russ Feingold was priding himself on being the first delegate to challenge the party platform when he demanded an end to unlimited indirect contributions to political campaigns. Although he had a speaking slot far from prime time, his speech was closely vetted. Even then he took the precaution of taking his printed text to the podium - "just in case they tried to mess with the teleprompters."

* With a presidential nominee who once claimed to have invented the internet, it is perhaps not surprising that the Democrats have made a modest effort to embrace new technology. When the state delegations cast their votes to nominate Mr Gore, they did not just shout them out but registered them on sleek new Apple Mac computers strategically placed through the hall. Not everyone was impressed, however. "It's all decided beforehand anyway," said Patrick Leahy of Ohio, "so what does it matter?"

* Mr Gore's campaign website (www.Algore2000.com, if you want to know), on the other hand, seems to be moving in an anti-tech direction. After more than a year of existence, it is trying to "humanise" itself - and the candidate. The new format includes pictures from the family album and an instant messaging facility so that Gore supporters can communicate with each other online. The only instant messaging George W's site goes in for is a pesky little pop-up box soliciting money.

* Is Clintonism infectious? The strait-laced, po-faced Mr Gore almost slipped up as he accepted the metaphorical leadership baton from Mr Clinton in Michigan. Boasting about his practice of staying with schoolteachers to acquaint himself with their lives, he started to talk about "two teachers I spent the night ...", before frantically correcting himself to offer this emergency rephrasing: "Two teachers at the homes of which I spent the night ..." Mr Clinton, standing right behind, kept a grimly straight face.

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