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By Bennett Roth, Houston Chronicle Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jul. 29--BOSTON -- The Southern senator picked to bring populist warmth to the Democratic ticket promised to take the high road Wednesday in a direct plea to alienated voters.
Aiming his remarks beyond the partisan crowd gathered in Boston, John Edwards called on Americans to "choose hope over despair, possibilities over problems, optimism over cynicism."
Edwards, a trial lawyer whose sunny, down-home appeal helped him win the No. 2 spot on the ticket with John Kerry, saluted the Massachusetts senator as a war-tested hero who was better suited to deal with military conflicts than the current White House occupant.
It was a theme repeated Wednesday night as Democrats gathered at Boston's FleetCenter voted to extend the party's presidential nomination to Kerry, who is locked in a close race with President Bush.
Kerry watched his running mate on television and prepared to deliver his own speech to the convention tonight -- what experts say could be one of the most important …