by Mark Silva
DENVER - Someone old, someone new, nothing red, all things blue:
The starting lineup of featured speakers at the political rodeo opening today will give Democrats here, and indeed anyone tuning in from afar, a big taste of the new direction in which this party hopes to take the nation in November while reminding all of where it's been.
Foremost among the new: Michelle Obama, wife of the party's presumptive presidential nominee. This is a big stage for the woman who has confronted criticism for her admission that this campaign presented her the first opportunity in her adult life to feel proud about America.
Among the old: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The first woman to lead the House has attempted for some time to deliver what Barack Obama now is promising: A timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Among the really old: The convention will pay tribute to Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. A short Ken Burns film featuring the senator will be introduced by his niece, Caroline Kennedy, in a tribute to the senior senator who sought the party's presidential nomination in 1980 and now is undergoing treatment for a malignant brain tumor. He has been released from a hosptial and may make a convention appearance.
The Democrats will hear from former President Jimmy Carter, who won the presidency in 1976 and lost it in 1980 and has remained a force in human rights worldwide.
Among the relatively new: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., of Illinois, son of the old guard of a civil rights movement that now yields to the first major party's nomination of an African American for president. He has been openly critical of his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who went into the desert to seek self-counsel following his famous "open-mic'' remark about Obama.
Among the old: Former Rep. Lee Hamilton of Indiana, who was a member of the 9/11 Commission and co-chairman of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. The AP suggests that "Hamilton's April endorsement of Obama helped the candidate's camp answer the question -- "Who do you want to answer the phone at 3 a.m.?" -- posed by the Clinton campaign.''
Among the prospects for Obama's Senate seat, should he win the presidency: Lisa Madigan, Ilinois' attorney general, and Dan Hynes, Illinois' comptroller - he had challenged Obama for the Senate nomination in 2004.