Columbians cheer for focus on unity

Friday, July 30, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:44 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

About 160 Columbia-area Democrats were on their feet, clapping and cheering for more than a minute at Boone County Democratic Headquarters on Thursday night as Sen. John Kerry was introduced for his nomination acceptance speech.

In a large room filled with red and blue balloons — and, more important to this crowd, a pair of televisions — supporters laughed at Kerry’s jokes, cheered when he accepted the nomination and burst into applause on points of policy.

“It was awesome — it was so great, and it really energized me and makes me proud to be a Democrat because his speech was so focused on unifying our nation and not trying to polarize it anymore than we already are,” said 24-year-old Laura Hutton.

“Everybody’s just cheering and yelling and everything,” said Scott Christen, who will be a senior at Hickman High School and plans to cast his first presidential vote for Kerry. “It’s nonstop support.”

Scott Cristal said he felt the pulse of excitement in the room, adding the Democratic Party has never seemed so united to him before.

“I liked the way that he strived for the unity of all Americans regardless of their background or party affiliation,” said Cristal, who is secretary of the Boone County Democratic Central Committee.

“I like that he’s injected some humor into his speech,” Cristal said.

The party at the Walnut Street headquarters was one of an estimated 5,000 “watch parties” around the country.

The watch parties are important, said Christine Glunz, state spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, because they are a direct reflection of the excitement Missouri voters feel as they get to know more and more about Kerry.

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