Democrats Kick Off Convention Madness

A presidential ticket now in hand, exuberant Democrats flooded downtown Denver today for the official start of their 2008 nominating convention, hoping to heal rifts from a bruising primary season and begin their fight to the November election with renewed focus.

Security is tight, media lines into the Pepsi Center wax and wane, and a few protesters have already been arrested, all for a convention that is predicted to have a cast of characters that number close to 100,000.

Stores lining the streets near the convention greet attendees with signs offering "liberal discounts" and mannequins welcoming patrons in Obama '08 T-shirts.

Usually these highly choreographed political extravaganza leave little room for secrets.

But this year, details surrounding at least two last-minute surprises remain blurry and have delegates buzzing.

First, came word this morning that Sen. Ted Kennedy arrived in Denver to attend the convention. Kennedy was diagnosed with a brain tumor earlier this summer and taped a video message to be played at the convention, as he had planned to stay home.

"Senator Kennedy is in Denver and plans to attend tonight's tribute to him." Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter told ABC News' Rick Klein on Monday. "He's truly humbled by the outpouring of support, and wouldn't miss it for anything in the world."

Cutter said for the moment, Senator Kennedy plans to attend, but not speak.

Democratic Convention Preparation

Then there is the question of Sen. Hillary Clinton's roll call vote. In an effort to soothe Clinton supporters, Clinton and Obama camps brokered a deal earlier this month to place her name into nomination with Obama's to be followed by a roll call vote. As of Sunday, it was unclear whether that would happen; some Clinton insiders told ABC News that there's fear that a roll call might disrupt the party's attempts at unity.

"The roll call is in flux," ABC News' George Stephanopoulos reported on "Good Morning America" today. On Sunday, House speaker Nancy Pelosi said she understood that the roll call vote would still be conducted.

An estimated 30 percent of Clinton supporters are still not ready to back Obama, polls show. "That's the difference between winning and losing for Barack Obama," Stephanopoulos said.

Speaking to the New York delegation breakfast in Denver this morning, Clinton stressed that Democrats are united, saying that word at least nine times in her remarks, per ABC News' Eloise Harper.

"We are gathered here in Denver for a very clear and simple purpose and that is to come out of this convention energized, excited and ready to elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States," Clinton said to a cheering crowd.

But this evening, Obama's wife, Michelle, will take the spotlight, delivering the first major address of the convention.

Aides say she will try to introduce her husband to the country by telling his life story as well as endearing anecdotes about their family so that everyday Americans can identify with him.

The candidate's wife will also showcase herself as a potential first lady who is one of them: She's a fan of the "Brady Bunch" and "Dick Van Dyke" reruns.

"It will be about the Obama family and the people who inspired them," Valerie Jarrett, a longtime friend of the Obama's and a key adviser, told "Good Morning America" today.

Obama the candidate will be watching his wife from Kansas City and will appear briefly live via satellite after she speaks.

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