LOS ANGELES — Al Gore will spread out his blueprint for America's future Thursday evening as he formally accepts the presidential nomination of the Democratic National Convention.
In part, it will build on a vow made Wednesday by Gore's vice presidential choice, Joe Lieberman, to break down all remaining barriers of discrimination, one of which fell as Lieberman became the first Jew to be nominated for vice president by a major party.
Lieberman told delegates in Los Angeles that he wants to extend the American dream that allowed his Jewish grandmother to escape religious harassment by coming to America; saw U.S. soldiers rescue his wife's family from the Holocaust; allowed him to march with Martin Luther King Jr. for civil rights; and permitted him, the son of an orphan, to help top his party's presidential ticket.
"Is America a great country or what?" Lieberman asked.
Gore is expected to give a detailed speech on an array of issues. As Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt told the Utah delegation, "How do I know that? Because I've heard him give nothing but detailed speeches for eight years."
Babbitt said that should help demonstrate to Americans Gore's deep knowledge of the issues, and show exactly where he wants to take the nation.
Mickey Ibarra, the Utahn who is President Clinton's director of intergovernmental affairs, said it should help show that governing "is about issues. It's what we need to talk about."
But besides issues, Thursday's convention agenda also will feature some of the people closest to Gore talking about the nominee as a friend, father, husband, soldier, mountain-climber, college roommate and worker.
Meanwhile, Wednesday was Lieberman's day to shine, even though Gore made a surprise visit to wave to the crowd and hug his daughter Karenna Gore Schiff after she gave a speech to second his nomination.
"Every time a barrier is broken, the doors of opportunity open wider for everyone," Lieberman said. "That's why I believe that the time has come to tear down the remaining walls of discrimination in this nation: walls based on race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation.
He recounted many broken barriers that blessed his family. "My father lived in an orphanage when he was a child, but in a land of opportunity, his son could become a vice presidential nominee."
He noted that his wife's family was "literally saved . . . by American GIs who liberated the (holocaust) concentration camps."
Also, he said a Jewish grandmother was reared in Europe where she was often harassed because of her faith. "Then she emigrated to America. On Saturdays, she used to walk to synagogue and often, her Christian neighbors would pass her and say, 'Good Sabbath, Mrs. Manger.' It was a source of endless delight."
Lieberman also recounted that "in the early 1960s, when I was a college student, I walked with Martin Luther King in the March on Washington. Later that fall, I went to Mississippi, where we worked to register African-Americans to vote and break barriers of racial discrimination.
Lieberman said Republicans are not as committed to breaking such barriers.
"Two weeks ago, our Republican friends actually tried to walk and talk a lot like us. But let's be honest. We may be near Hollywood, but not since Tom Hanks won an Oscar there has there been that much acting in Philadelphia."
Delegates howled with delight, and chanted, "Go Joe, go."
Lieberman was introduced by his wife, Hadassah, who said, "For Joe, family, faith, neighborhood, congregation and community are the guideposts of his life, orienting the choices he makes and the causes he champions."
The convention took care of its primary business by officially voting for Gore, after he was nominated by his old roommate, now-famous movie actor Tommy Lee Jones.
"Al is the closest thing I have to a brother," he said. "I am very proud of what he has done for America."
Not surprisingly, the vote to nominate Gore and Lieberman was unanimous.
Meg Holbrook, chairwoman of the Utah Democratic Party, announced the Utah vote, saying Utah "is where every Democratic vote counts" — an allusion to how badly Democrats are outnumbered by Republicans in the Beehive State.
She added that Utah needs Gore because "Utah's majestic wilderness must be preserved for all time; Utah's children must have excellent public schools; Utah's economy must keep growing; Utah's working families must have middle class tax relief and a patient's bill of rights; Utah's seniors must have prescription medicine covered by Medicare; and Utah's precious diversity must be protected for all our citizens.
"Because of all these reasons, our Utah delegation casts its 29 votes for the next president and vice president of the United States: Al Gore and Joe Lieberman," Holbrook said.
Also on Thursday, the convention heard pleas for stronger efforts against hate crimes by relatives of a black man who was dragged to death in Texas, and a homosexual who was tied to a fence and beaten to death in Wyoming.
Those victims of crimes from states of the GOP nominees — Texan George W. Bush and Wyoming resident Dick Cheney — said Gore and Lieberman are more concerned about human rights than their opponents.
"Al Gore has supported the rights of the gay community and the need for all people to respect and honor diversity," said Dennis Shepherd, father of Matthew Shepherd, the gay man who was murdered in Laramie, Wyo.
He added, "Al Gore will continue this policy to allow all people the right to live as full citizens in this country regardless of race or religion, gender or sexual orientation."
Rene Mullins, oldest daughter of James Byrd Jr., the black who was dragged to death in Texas, said, "America has a choice: We can vote for Mr. Al Gore and vote for justice, or we can sit back and complain when things get worse."