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McCaskill issues 'show-me' challenges to the convention

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: August 25, 2008 - As Democrats opened their presidential nominating convention in Denver, the message seemed to be one of introduction, of making sure that all who watched knew that Barack Obama was brought up by a single mother who worked hard.

Some who led the introductions were people such as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan who was a state senator with Obama and Jesse Jackson Jr. who noted that the Rev. Martin Luther King would appreciate that this was the first presidential convention from which you could see the mountaintops. It was also a night where women were often in the spotlight -- with one very notable exception.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., did more to fire up the convention crowd than remarks by dozens of other speakers. Introduced by his niece, Caroline, and a documentary by Ken Burns, Kennedy evoked the spirit of his late brother, President John F. Kennedy, in his stirring remarks. Though ill with brain cancer, he made it clear that he believes the torch should be passed to new generation and put into the hands of Barack Obama. 

Another who brought the crowd to its feet was Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who recalled her roots in Missouri. She said her story of being an ordinary woman who worked herself through school and made good was an example of the promise of America, which she said Barack Obama would recapture as president.

Introduced by her children, McCaskill first praised Missouri itself, its rich land, its "hard-working, family-centered" residents, adding that "we don't call it the Show-Me state for nothing."

"I feel blessed about the fact that I've been given the opportunity to speak," said McCaskill, who said that she was chosen because "I speak from the heart." She added, "This November. I'm confident Missouri will help Barack Obama be the next president of the country we love."

McCaskill also tried to humanize Obama for those who are suspicious of him because of his name or because of the incorrect but still circulating myth that he was Muslim, not Christian. In addition, she also tried to undercut comments by those who depict Obama as elitist and out of touch with ordinary people.

Obama's story, she said, is also an "America's story," mentioning that he had been raised by a mother who "grew up in modest means."

She also attacked Republican Sen. John McCain, saying he was among Republicans who wanted to take care of the "few, powerful and extremely wealthy."

She appealed to delegates and the nationally televised audience to "come to our senses … we cannot choose that path again."

Other coverage
Michelle Obama filled her speech with stories about her husband and their children, humanizing the somewhat cerebral candidate. | Bloomberg

Click here, to watch Michelle Obama'sr convention speech on YouTube. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi started the chant, "Barack Obama is right and John McCain is wrong" as she listed a litany of what the Democrats have accomplished and their goals. | USA Today

Robert Joiner has carved a niche in providing informed reporting about a range of medical issues. He won a Dennis A. Hunt Journalism Award for the Beacon’s "Worlds Apart" series on health-care disparities. His journalism experience includes working at the St. Louis American and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he was a beat reporter, wire editor, editorial writer, columnist, and member of the Washington bureau.