Region 8 Delegates Converge on Boston for Democratic National Convention

July 26, 2004 -- Posted 4:30 p.m. CDT

Jonesboro, AR -- 46 delegates and 7 alternates are representing the State of Arkansas at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. There are more women delegates than men.

Helicopters are buzzing over Boston, and there are many more signs of increased security, including soldiers near train lines, and bomb-sniffing dogs around the Fleet Center.

Members of the Arkansas delegation say they're feeling safe and focused on what they have to do.

"Boston has been a wonderful place, the people have been great to us," said Delegate Michael Langley of Paragould. "We're just taking some extra time and being as cautious as possible, but they've got this place ready to go."

They're ready for Beantown's first ever political party convention. But party convention's are not like they used to be. Long gone are the days when the nominee was chosen at the end, after heated debate that kept news coverage going well into the evening. Now there's hardly any guessing.

"We need a change, and they're committed to John Kerry to make sure we get that change," said Langley.

Some Arkansans in Region 8 don't want a change or really don't know the Massachusetts Senator.

"I don't really like his character," said one Region 8 resident. "If you look at his record, he's an extreme liberal far to the left."

"He's the one running against President Bush, that's about all I know," said another Region 8 resident.

Kerry supporters in Region 8 are hoping Arkansas delegates can articulate the candidate's message when they get back home.

"He's a veteran, he's a leader, he's a father, he's certainly experienced, and those are the things we want to see," said Langley.

Delegates will also be seeing a list of appearances and speeches from political heavyweights, including former President Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, and former President Bill Clinton.

Delegates say Rodney Slater has urged them to set the tone for the convention this year, as the last democrat elected President came from Arkansas.

"He'll give a great speech, and put on a good show, tonight's the night we're really looking forward to," said Langley.

Republicans are in Boston as well behind enemy lines to quickly respond to any false claims made by Democrats.

Governor Huckabee himself charged last week that Vice Presidential Candidate John Edwards does not possess southern values. Huckabee says Edwards is not a hunter, nor a Nascar fan.