This is Steve Ember with In the News, in VOA Special English.
John Kerry, now officially the Democratic nominee for president, has started a two-week campaign trip across the United States. Senator Kerry will travel by bus with his choice for vice president, Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.
The candidates left from Boston, Massachusetts, for the first stops in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. These are among the so-called battleground states that could decide the winner of the election on November second. President Bush had a day of appearances Friday in Missouri, Michigan and Ohio.
The Republican Party convention opens on August thirtieth in New York City. Delegates will nominate President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for a second term. National conventions take place every four years, before the presidential election.
John Kerry accepted his nomination Thursday night at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. In his acceptance speech, he told Americans that this is the most important election of their lifetime. He said the United States is a nation at war. In his words, "I defended this country as a young man, and I will defend it as president."
The sixty-year-old senator from Massachusetts spoke of his military service during the Vietnam War. He earned medals for his actions as commander of a Navy gunboat, though he later protested the war. As president, Mister Kerry said he would build a stronger military to deal with all its current responsibilities.
He said he would react quickly and forcefully to any attack. But he said he would never "mislead" the nation into war. Mister Kerry also said he would work to improve relations with other countries.
The Bush administration says Americans should question Mister Kerry's ability to protect the country and fight the war on terrorism. But the senator suggested that measures taken since the September eleventh, two-thousand-one, attacks threaten constitutional freedoms.
Mister Kerry criticized the Iraq war, as well as the president's economic record. He said wages are falling, health care costs are rising and the middle class in America is shrinking. He declared: "It is time for those who talk about family values to start valuing families."
John Kerry has served in the Senate for twenty years. But many commentators said his acceptance speech in Boston was his most important speech ever. Political observers say the presidential race appears extremely close. John Kerry said his goal this week was to show voters that he could do better than President Bush.
Others who spoke at the Democratic convention included former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. And they included Al Gore, the former vice president who lost to Mister Bush in the disputed election of two-thousand.
In the News, in VOA Special English, was written by Cynthia Kirk and Jerilyn Watson. This is Steve Ember.