The party goes on after labor strife is eased in Boston

Teresa Heinz Kerry has run-in with writer at Pennsylvania reception

Convention notebook

Election 2004 -- The Democratic Convention

July 26, 2004

BOSTON - Bay State Democrats and the strumming of a harp welcomed Maryland delegates to a reception overlooking Boston harbor last night.

Eating hunks of carved meat and sipping white wine at the World Trade Center, 200 of the Free State's most faithful party members roared and cheered over the music on the eve of the presidential nominating convention. The biggest applause came at the mention of a Kerry/Edwards White House.

Party plans for the Marylanders had been cast in doubt by a long-running labor dispute involving city police and Mayor Thomas M. Menino. A welcoming reception at the Boston Children's Museum looked like a bust, after state Democrats said they wouldn't cross a picket line. But an 11th-hour agreement yielded labor peace.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan - who had urged the state's 120-plus delegates and alternates not to cross picket lines - shared a hopeful message last night: "We're gonna make this happen," he said to applause, referring to a Democratic takeover of the White House.

Quote ... unquote

Just as Democrats are gathering for a show of unity, Teresa Heinz Kerry bared her rebellious side, getting into a testy exchange with a zealous journalist whom she told to "shove it."

Heinz Kerry was all smiles and waves as she breezed into Boston's gold-domed statehouse for some brief remarks to Pennsylvania delegates last night. But she stalked out in a huff after accusing the writer of misquoting her, then turned back and insulted him.

The quote in question came when Heinz Kerry told the crowd, "We need to turn back some of the creeping, un-Pennsylvanian - and sometimes un-American - traits that are coming into some of our politics."

As she was leaving, shaking hands and bopping to the strains of a jazz band, Colin McNickle, the editorial page editor of the conservative Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, confronted Heinz Kerry and asked what she had meant by "un-American activities."

"I didn't say that," she replied, repeatedly. "Why did you put words in my mouth? ... I did not say `activity' or `un-American.' Those are your words."

After taking steps toward the door, she returned to ask McNickle whom he worked for. (It happens to be the newspaper, a longtime Heinz Kerry antagonist, owned by Richard Mellon Scaife, a leading supporter of conservative causes and a Bush campaign donor).

"You said something I didn't say," she said. "Now, shove it."

During her remarks to the delegates, Heinz Kerry had said she had to go home and practice delivering her prepared text tomorrow night.

"I'm kind of dreading it," she said, "because I am generally unscripted."

They came to play

Try turning a basketball and hockey arena into space for the Democratic National Convention. Team locker rooms, for one, have become the green rooms. (Well, they're really mustard cinder-block with red curtains.) Prime-time speakers might appear moments after fixing their makeup in mirrors next to a bank of urinals.

Chances are they'll decide not to use the showers. In one room, there are six of them, high-school gym class style, not divided by shower curtains.

Performing a last-minute inspection yesterday, one aghast organizer noticed that a shower room was cluttered with cleaning supplies and that sinks were, for unknown reasons, full of potting soil. "We have to clean this up!" he yelled, hours before Democratic luminaries would be in the space.

It was hard to walk anywhere in the arena without running into John Kerry, whose photo adorned walls all over the place. One exhibit set up to document the senator's life showed just about every side to the man. There was Kerry, standing with NAACP President Kweisi Mfume, or with Rep. Elijah E. Cummings of Baltimore.

And there was Kerry, in his high school year book photo, or in his high school hockey uniform, or as a caption noted, "playing the bass guitar with his band, the Electras."

Zone offense

Blocked from the convention area by two metal fences, a highway and a line of police officers, protestors from an assortment of groups marched near the Fleet Center. As a squad of officers decked out in riot gear stood at attention, more than 100 people beat drums and shouted through megaphones.

They advocated a free Palestine, or an end to the Iraq war. Many also protested the official protest zone, calling the razor-wire-topped pen a claustrophobic violation of their right to free speech.

"Well, hello, it's like an internment center," said Sara Driscoll, who planned to demonstrate with peace activists outside the designated protest area.

Even those who demonstrated inside the cordoned off area said they were angered.

"It's completely excessive," said Tanya Mayo, who drove from New York. "They're really trying to ratchet up this climate of fear and repression."

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