Monday, June 21, 2004

Texas Democrats call for the state government to declare a moratorium on use of the death penalty

More Convention Coverage

Texas Democrats gather in Houston
Edwards, Kucinich speak at convention
By Rachna Sheth
The Daily Texan
June 21, 2004

Texas Democrats rallied around presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and called for the state government to declare a moratorium on use of the death penalty until a better system can be implemented at the biennial Texas Democratic State Convention, held in Houston this weekend.

The convention resulted in resolutions by the delegates to support research on the use of medical marijuana, create a federal Department of Peace and reaffirm core party values such as abortion rights.

Republicans held their biennial state convention earlier this month in San Antonio.

The defiance of the 52 Texas House Democrats, also known as the Killer Ds, who fled to Ardmore, Okla. to block redistricting during the 2003 regular session, garnered admiration at the convention with supporters sporting signs saying, "I'm a Killer D fan."

The appearances by potential vice-presidential candidate U.S. Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, incited enthusiasm among the state convention delegates. UT University Democrat Emily Cadik said it was exciting to be able to see Democratic candidates. National Democrats usually don't come to Texas because "they don't consider it a battleground state," Cadik said.

Former presidential candidate and potential Kerry running mate Edwards gave a speech to a crowd of 8,000 on Friday.

"I want the rest of the country to see what kind of strong Texan Democrats are here. Thank you, Texas," Edwards said. "How proud were you, and all Democrats across America, to see the Killer Ds in Texas stand up to [U.S. Rep.] Tom DeLay?"

In his address, Edwards criticized President George W. Bush for telling the press in a recent interview that he could not think of a single mistake his administration has made since taking office in November 2000.

Edwards said the administration has not sufficiently addressed disparity of education in public schools, healed the racial divisions within the country, properly handled national defense or taken care of the homeless.

Edwards said his vision for the United States includes a more equal public school system and an economy in which people who work full-time for minimum wage do not fall below the poverty line.

The solution to these problems, he said, would be the election of Kerry to the White House this November. 

"When Senator Kerry was down, when his back was against the wall, he showed what a leader he was," Edwards said about his former opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. "What he showed in this campaign is what he's shown America his entire life. He has strength, he has courage, he has determination, he has a real vision for America, and he will win America for everybody."

The crowd chanted "VP, VP, VP" in support of Kerry's possible selection of Edwards as his running mate, but Edwards did not comment on the possibility to the press or the audience.

Not all Democrats displayed enthusiastic support for Sen. Kerry's presidential campaign. State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who claimed to be the only state representative to vote against a pro-war resolution in the legislature, said he believes Kucinich is the only Democratic presidential candidate who is "dedicated to international world peace."

Kucinich said the war in Iraq was not justified and called for a peace plan with an "exit strategy." Kucinich also called for the repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act, and voiced opposition to amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex unions. 

Both Kucinich and Edwards said they believe Texas could possibly pull an upset in November.

"This state is going to surprise America," Kucinich said.

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