Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday * Top Dems set to speak in Denver

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By Carol A. Clark

Late Friday, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois selected Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate. Many say Biden balances Obama’s relative inexperience in foreign and defense issues.

Biden, 65, was elected to the Senate at the age of 29 in 1973.

With the decision of a running mate wrapped up, attention turns to the four-day long 2008 Democratic National Convention beginning Monday at the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver.

“I’m very excited about the convention and I intend to follow it closely,” said Los Alamos Democratic Party Vice Chair Cathy Chapman.”We have five delegates and two alternates going from our Congressional District 3.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the nation’s first female speaker of the House, will open the convention.

Monday is lining up to be family day with potential first lady Michelle Obama addressing Democrats along with her older brother Craig Robinson and her husband’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng.

Also on Monday’s agenda, Caroline Kennedy will introduce a five-minute recorded tribute to her uncle Sen. Edward Kennedy, diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor recently.

Former President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jimmy Carter will address Democrats on the convention’s opening night. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr, son of the civil rights activist, will give a speech that will “tell Barack Obama’s life story.”

Tuesday headliners include Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and California Sen. Barbara Boxer among others.

Wednesday’s slate of speakers are former President Bill Clinton, 2004 party nominee Sen. John Kerry and New Mexico’s Rep. Tom Udall and Gov. Bill Richardson.

The convention moves to the Thursday to allow more people to hear Biden and Obama accept their nominations. The facility seats 75,000 and is sold out.

“I plan to attend Sen. Obama’s acceptance speech with the New Mexico delegates, including our youngest, Sean Stimmel,19, from White Rock,” Chapman said.

Some 15,000 journalists are credentialed to cover the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Monitor County Editor Carol A. Clark is covering the convention for the Monitor and will file stories daily. She also will report live from the convention floor at noon each day on KRSN AM 1490.