Democrats praise ‘new hope’ Obama
Michelle Obama on her husband’s hopes
The wife of US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has joined party leaders in praising his values, dedication to family and leadership.
Michelle Obama, giving the first keynote address of the party’s four-day convention in Denver, said he would make "an extraordinary president".
Senator Edward Kennedy, undergoing treatment for brain cancer, also lauded Mr Obama, saying he offered "new hope".
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke of a defining moment in history for the US.
Praising Mr Obama’s "bold" vision for the nation’s future, Mrs Pelosi described him as "honouring American values, a belief in personal responsibility, in community, in hard work".
Mr Obama, 47, will formally accept the party’s nomination when he addresses a crowd of 80,000 at a sports stadium on Thursday night, fresh from touring electoral battlegrounds.
The first African-American to be nominated as a US presidential candidate, he will stand against Republican John McCain in the 4 November ballot.
The Democrats hope their national convention in Colorado will show the Illinois senator as a family man and heal the rifts of the primary race.
Senator Edward Kennedy addresses the delegates
In an assured speech, Mrs Obama talked of being raised with the same values as her husband: "That you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect."
She went on: "We want our children and all children in this nation, to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them."
The couple’s two young daughters, Sasha and Malia, then joined their mother on stage as Mr Obama spoke by satellite video link-up from Missouri.
Earlier, Mr Kennedy, the 76-year-old scion of the iconic Democratic family, appeared on stage to loud cheers.
"I have come here to stand with you to change America, to restore its future, to rise to our best ideals and elect Barack Obama president of the United States," he said.
His niece, Caroline Kennedy, who had introduced a video homage to Mr Kennedy shortly before, paid her own emotional tribute to both him and Mr Obama.
"Their stories are very different but they share a commitment to the timeless American ideals of justice and fairness, service and sacrifice, faith and family," she said.
"Leaders like them come along rarely. But once or twice in a lifetime, they come along just when we need them most."
Mr Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetero-Ng, earlier spoke of a shared upbringing in which she and her brother learned that with hard work and imagination they could "dream the improbable".
‘Strength and unity’
Party officials have played down the scope for discord between supporters of Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton, who was his chief rival for the nomination.
Opening the convention, Democratic chairman Howard Dean spoke of "the strength and unity of our party".
Mrs Clinton herself, addressing delegates from her home state of New York on Monday, urged them to throw their support behind Mr Obama.
She will give a speech to the convention on Tuesday and her husband and former president Bill is to speak on Wednesday.
More than 4,000 Democratic delegates and tens of thousands of officials, activists, protesters and journalists have descended on Denver for the event.
The Republican Party’s convention will take place next week in St Paul, Minnesota.
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