Originally created 08/18/00

State's Congressmen offer delegates thanks



LOS ANGELES - U.S. Sen. Max Cleland and U.S. Rep. John Lewis thanked Georgia delegates to the Democratic National Convention on Thursday for their show of support when the two addressed the convention the night before.

Mr. Cleland, D-Ga., took part in a tribute to veterans, and Mr. Lewis, D-Atlanta, was among the speakers who introduced vice presidential nominee Joseph Lieberman.

"I saw those homemade signs," Mr. Lewis told the delegates at Thursday's breakfast meeting. "Those signs were very inspiring because they were homemade."

The "Go for the Max!" signs the delegates waved when Mr. Cleland took to the stage were mass produced. But he appreciated them just the same.

"I want to thank you all for that spontaneous demonstration and the pre-printed, `homemade' signs," Mr. Cleland said jokingly. "For a little kid from Main Street in Lithonia, Ga., it was something else to be up on that podium."

Mr. Lewis left the delegates with a mission: to take the fervor they gained in Los Angeles and use it on behalf of Al Gore when they get back to Georgia.

"We've been on the mountaintop this week, but we have to go back to the valley," he said. "There must be a crusade in Georgia to turn out the vote .ƒ.ƒ. and let Georgia be in the Democratic column!"

All week, Democratic convention speakers berated the Republicans for trotting out so many black and Hispanic speakers during their convention two weeks ago in Philadelphia. Again and again, the GOP was mocked for its "illusion of inclusion."

Annette Hatton of Athens, Ga., one of 212 openly homosexual delegates at the convention, said no better example of the Democrats' genuine spirit of inclusion could be found than the prime-time slot the party gave Tuesday night to Elizabeth Birch, executive director of Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group.

But after a week of highly charged partisanship, one of the last things the Georgia Democrats did at their final breakfast meeting Thursday was observe a moment of silence for late Republican Sen. Paul Coverdell.

State Rep. Calvin Smyre noted that one of the "profound" moments of Mr. Gore's appearance at a rally in Atlanta last week came when he paid tribute to Mr. Coverdell, who died last month of complications after a stroke.

"Paul Coverdell gave his time and energy to serve us in the U.S. Senate," said Mr. Smyre, D-Columbus. "He was a true public servant."