By Eric Johnson and Samuel P. Jacobs
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) - Democrats summoned liberal icon Ted Kennedy from the grave to attack Mitt Romney at the party's national convention Tuesday night.
During a video tribute to the late Massachusetts senator - whose endorsement of President Barack Obama helped him surpass Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary - the Democratic Party used film from the 1994 U.S. Senate debate between Kennedy and his Republican challenger that year, Romney.
In the video, Romney - now Obama's rival in the race for president - called himself "pro-choice" on abortion, meaning he supported a woman's right to have the procedure. A skeptical Kennedy replied, "I am pro-choice. My opponent is multiple choice."
Democratic delegates in the Time Warner Cable Arena roared their approval, and cheers of, "Teddy ... Teddy ... Teddy," filled the arena.
The video revived accusations that Romney is a flip-flopper - a line of attack that largely has been discarded by the Obama campaign in favor of framing Romney as an ideological conservative.
Romney eventually was elected governor of Massachusetts, one of the nation's more liberal states. Now, as candidate in the November 6 presidential election, Romney has shifted his views to be in line with the conservative, anti-abortion voters that are among the most influential members of the Republican Party.
Diane Wallace, 65, of Los Angeles, said people around her were moved to tears and to bitter laughter as they watched the video.
"It was so moving. Kennedy wasn't afraid to say something that had to be said," Wallace said, adding: "I don't know where Romney's moral compass is."
Following the video, Twitter lit up with messages supporting Kennedy and its attack on Romney - and with criticism from Republicans.
"Classless Dems use tribute video of deceased Ted Kennedy to attack Mitt Romney," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Preibus said in a tweet.
Kennedy was a leader in a push to expand healthcare. He died of cancer in 2009, just seven months before Obama's signature healthcare legislation was passed by a Democrat-controlled Congress.
Kennedy became the patriarch of a fabled American political family after his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and former attorney general Robert F. Kennedy, were assassinated in the 1960s.
(Edited by David Lindsey and Alden Bentley)