"He even looks dashing in a Santa suit." -- Elizabeth Edwards, introducing John Edwards

"USA! USA! USA! USA! USA!" -- chanted by the delegates after a corps of retired generals and admirals took the stage to endorse John Kerry

-- Los Angeles Times staff writer Maria L. LaGanga

The warm-up acts: Today's daytime convention session featured a range of issue-specific speeches attacking President Bush on an array of issues. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. criticized the placement of industry lobbyists in federal regulatory positions. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn said that cities need more federal support.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey declared that "Israel will never have a better friend in the White House than President John Kerry." Raul Yzaguirre, the president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, said that simple ploys will not be enough to sway Latino voters. "We will not be impaired and influenced by message alone. A few phrases in Spanish won't work anymore. Promises can be broken in Spanish, as well as in English," he said. And former astronaut and Sen. John Glenn of Ohio said that education and scientific development were "the twin pillars of our success in the 20th century." But under the Bush administration, he said, "other countries are fast gaining ground on us and threatening America's greatest competitive strengths: knowledge and innovation and creativity."

-- Los Angeles Times staff writer Robert Schiff

Liberal in the House, conservative in the home: Thursday night, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi takes her place in the spotlight at the FleetCenter. Pelosi's mission will be to define the Democratic mission, to talk about what the party stands for, to clear up that fuzzy message problem that sometimes afflicts the party.

Pelosi, it's often noted, has a gracious way of knocking heads to get her work done. Her experience as the mother of five has probably helped hone that skill. "My mother is the most conservative person I know," said Christine Pelosi, 38, the chief of staff for Massachusetts Rep. John F. Tierney. " 'Mind your manners, behave yourself, did you send your thank you notes?' In church, you're listening to the homily. In our house, we're listening to the 'momily.' "

The Pelosi children also learned a thing or two about handling internecine rivalry. Said Christine: "If you tell on your siblings, your siblings will tell on you, especially tattletaling. 'Miss Make-Matters-Worse,' my mother called it. It was not a title that you'd want."

Meanwhile, the youngest Pelosi, Alexandra, was reluctant to be quoted about her Mom. Alexandra had her own moment in the spotlight in 2002, when HBO released "Journeys with George," her documentary about life on the presidential campaign trail with then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush. She has spent the last two years working on an HBO documentary about the Democratic presidential candidates. Turns out she got in a little hot water recently when she told the Washington Post that Sen. John F. Kerry is not "warm and fuzzy." "I'm a loose cannon," she said cheerfully. "I really can't talk."

-- Los Angeles Times staff writers Robin Abcarian and James Rainey

Reporters break out; news doesn't: On Tuesday, an urgent e-mail from the Kerry-Edwards campaign alerted the press that Sen. John Edwards would make an "OFF THE RECORD MOVEMENT [actual words] AT 10:45 PM TONIGHT."

After body-wand and dog-sniff searches, 30 Edwards scribes/shooters piled into half a dozen vans, waited 35 minutes, then were rushed by motorcade (flashing police lights, sirens) across Boston. Edwards staffers declined (for security reasons?) to disclose the destination. Vans arrived in the bowels of FleetCenter. Media stampeded up escalators and stairs to the convention floor, then waited again. Presence of dozens of cameras and notepads produced buzz, luring dozens more cameras and notepads.

Clock neared 12:30 a.m. Media agglomeration maxed out at 100. Finally, the North Carolinian stepped on the stage for a sound check. Edwards handlers adjusted the podium: higher, lower, a skosh higher. Candidate squinted into lights. Candidate smiled. Camera jocks shouted to TV shoulder-cam colleague to "lower your boom." Reporters shouted questions from floor below.

Net information gain from candidate? The stage looks "great." His tired voice is "fine." He feels "good."

-- Los Angeles Times staff writers Robin Abcarian and James Rainey

I'll give ya 3 Gores and a Denny Kucinich for 1 Sharpton: Adam Gottlieb is not just communications director for the California Arts Council, he is an avid, nearly breathless, collector of political pins. "It's a tangible way to relive history!" he said. "A way to hold history in your hands! A real way to get in with touch politics!" Down boy!

Political conventions, of course, are Mecca and Lourdes rolled into one for this breed. Gottlieb is here, believe it or not, on vacation. On Monday, Gottlieb, 40, who carries a baggie filled with vintage pins, spotted a Clinton/Kerry button, from a joint appearance the two made in 1996, when they were both running for reelection. "I said, 'What do you want? I have to have that pin! So I gave the guy two 1960's-era JFKs, a red Kerry Planned Parenthood and a Firefighters for Kerry." Gottlieb is stoked about his remaining Kerry/Planned Parenthood button. He thinks the big, red button already may be worth $20 on eBay!

-- Los Angeles Times staff writers Robin Abcarian and James Rainey