Barack Obama delivers his acceptance speech as the first black presidential nominee of a major US party, on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King's historic "I have a dream" speech. WATCH HIS SPEECH LIVE.
Barack Obama was Thursday to summon America to join his crusade for change, as the Democratic convention climaxes in a historic echo of Martin Luther King's" "I have a dream" speech.
Forty-five years to the day after the civil rights icon spelled out an electrifying vision of racial equality, Obama will claim his prize as the first-ever black presidential nominee of a major US political party.
His Republican foe John McCain was getting to set to name his running mate, with rumors buzzing that the identity of his pick could be leaked imminently, in a bid to syphon away news coverge from the Democrats.
The Illinois senator, after a stunningly swift rise to the pinnacle of US politics, is under pressure to deliver a speech that will go down in history, but must also try to forge bonds with economically bereft heartland voters.
Obama aides have been downplaying expectations: the speech will be a "nuts and bolts" address, said spokesman Josh Earnest.
The 75,000 people who will cram into a football stadium to hear it will reflect the grass-roots insurgency the campaign represents, he said.
"The large crowd that we expect is indicative of the campaign that Senator Obama has run from the beginning ... change happens from the bottom up."
Obama limbered up his big day with a game of pickup basketball at a Denver gym, following his tradition of shooting hoops on red letter political days.
Later, he dropped in on a lunch of women from his Illinois delegation, telling them he had not forgotten his roots.
"I have a speech tonight. I wanted to practice it out on you guys," Obama said, as the women cheered. "See if it works."
Delores Register, from Oak Park, Illinois watched from the back of the room.
"Here we were eating lunch, and it was like the clouds parted and the sun was shining," she said.
Obama's star-studded pageant of glitz and patriotism will be whipped up by Motown icon Stevie Wonder. Jennifer Hudson, a former "American Idol" contestant who won an Oscar for the musical "Dreamgirls," will sing the national anthem.
Singer will.i.am, who wrote a song based on Obama's "Yes we can" speech that became a popular music video, will also rock the crowd.
But Republicans mercilessly mocked Obama's lofty oratory, and the classically-themed backdrop that some observers have compared to a Greek temple set up at the Denver Broncos football stadium.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, one of the last names on McCain's running mate shortlist, said here the Democrats were sure to put on an "eye-popping" spectacle.
"The real point is does this just feed into the growing perception that what we have is one big glitzy production?" he told reporters here.
"But really, after the crowd files out, after the fireworks take place ... the question remains, what is left and is this person ready to be president of the United States?"
McCain was expected to tell his vice presidential nominee of his choice on Thursday, before making a debut campaign swing appearance with the pick on Friday.
As well as Pawlenty, former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and independent senator Joseph Lieberman were thought to be high on the Arizona's senator's short-list.
Republicans will grab back the spotlight from the Democrats on Friday, ahead of their own convention in Minnesota next week.
A new Gallup daily tracking poll meanwhile showed that Obama was getting the first signs of a lift from the convention, after the race narrowed to a tense dead heat during August.
He led McCain 48 to 42 percent among registered voters. Before the Democratic jamboree began, Gallup had the race locked in a tie, with both candidates on 45 percent.
Obama on Thursday sent the convention into raptures by crashing his own party a day early, after a stemwinding speech from running-mate Joseph Biden and a belated but glowing endorsement from ex-president Bill Clinton.
He formally got the nomination when former rival Hillary Clinton halted a roll-call vote and called for him to be selected by acclamation.
Date created : 2008-08-28